Can I Move Out of State With My Child in Wisconsin?

The law in Wisconsin is that you cannot move with your child(ren) more than 150 miles from your residence or out of state without providing notice to the other parent, with a divorce or paternity case pending.  The exception to this is if the other parent does NOT have visitation or placement rights which, of course, is rare.

You must provide sixty (60) days advance written notice to the other parent explaining when and where you intend to move and the reasons for said move.  Make sure you have some proof of notice such as a certified mail receipt.  If the other parent objects, he or she can file an objection with the court but must do so within fifteen (15) days of receiving your notice. It is wise to make no definite plans to move until you learn whether or not the other parent will object.

If there is an objection, the court can prevent the child(ren) from moving. The law in Wisconsin is somewhat complicated but states that the court can either prevent the move or modify the custody and placement provisions if the court finds all of the following:

∙ The modification is in the best interest of the child.
∙ The move or removal will result in a substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the last order affecting legal custody or the last order substantially affecting physical placement.

This means that the court could award placement/custody to the other party if you move. It would depend on what type of relationship the other parent has with your children and how much he/she sees the children but the court could transfer custody and/or placement to him or her if the court believes it would be in the best interests of the children.

The court arrives at this decision by considering the following factors:
∙ Whether the purpose of the proposed action is reasonable.
∙ The nature and extent of the child’s relationship with the other parent and the disruption to that relationship which the proposed action may cause.
∙ The availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child’s relationship with and access to the other parent.

If you wish to move less than 150 miles away, your current placement schedule may still be affected. For example, the current placement schedule may not be workable due to the distance and either party may ask the court to modify the placement schedule based on a substantial change in circumstances. However, the court could still determine that it is not in the best interests of the children to move and/or change schools. Therefore, if the other parent’s residency permits, the court could still award placement to the other parent so that the children could remain in their current school district. Again, it is best to wait to make definite plans until you can be sure the other parent agrees or the court will agree that the children may move and change schools.

To be clear, YOU can always move. The question of whether you can move with your child, however, is one that must be decided by the court after following the steps described above.

If there is no divorce or paternity case pending or a judgment previously entered, there are no restrictions on a move.  However, you should note that (a) you cannot conceal the whereabouts of a child from the other parent and (b) the other parent could always file an action and then request that the child be returned to the State of Wisconsin.  If you are concerned about this type of situation, it would best to speak to an experienced family law attorney about the facts of your case.

If you have any questions regarding moving with your child(ren), please contact our office at 414-258-1644 to schedule a free initial office consultation or visit our website for more information.

48 thoughts on “Can I Move Out of State With My Child in Wisconsin?

  1. Just a quick question. If there is a couple that is not married and has a child together and if one person wants to move to another state which is more then 150 miles away.. does that person who is moving give up there rights to that child

    • Not at all. The placement arrangement should be revised so that the person who moves still has placement, although clearly not as much. Often times placement will take place over school breaks and holidays. You should seek the advice of an experienced family attorney in your area to obtain more detailed information which is specific to your situation.

  2. What to I do…my sister has been afraid for her life and her daughters for the past 6 months because of her husband, and he seems to only be getting worse. 3 days ago she decided to leave him and now has been hiding in a hotel. her husband is very controlling and always seems to know where she even though she got rid of her phone and has only used cash. Today as she was leaving the hotel to drive to another state to be with her family a guy served her divorce papers. Does this now mean she cant leave the state?

    • Your sister should contact an experienced divorce attorney immediately! There are many factors that she must consider. Most divorce attorneys offer free consultations. If she lives in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington or Ozaukee counties, she can call our office at 414-258-1644. Otherwise, http://www.avvo.com is also a good resource for finding excellent attorneys.

    • Hello-

      You really should talk to an experienced divorce attorney before you make any decisions. Jurisdictional issues between states can be complicated. However, the answer to your question is essentially yes, so long as you do not conceal the whereabouts of the child after he/she is born, which is a felony. However, your husband could file for divorce here right away seeking an order that you be ordered to return. This may or may not be granted. On the other hand, the state in where the child is born is considered to be the home state and has jurisdiction over that child upon birth. So, conceivably, if your child is born out of state, a Wisconsin court would not have the authority to order that the child be returned. Again, you really should seek the advice of a divorce attorney, however, before you take any drastic actions. Good luck.

  3. Just a quick question. There is a lot of information out there about if there was an objection. But what if there was no objection from the other patent. Does that mean once the 60 days is up can we move? Do we need to file for change in custody? Do we have to wait until the change in custody to move?

    • There are two parts to a move. The first is approval/permission. If there is no objection, then that is taken as approval and you may move. However, the second is a new custody and placement order. Regardless of where you are living, the custody and placement order remains in effect and puts you in a position of having to comply with an order that is probably no longer workable if you move. So, even though there is no formal requirement that you file a motion on this, you most likely will have to. You should contact a family law attorney in your area to discuss your options and develop a “game plan”. I would typically recommend you wait until after you move to file that motion. Otherwise, it simply gives him a venue and an opportunity to then object. However, there may be other factors which would change that advice. Your best option is to see an attorney as soon as possible.

  4. I have a quick question. My two oldest childrens father hasnt been in our children lifes for 4 years and hasnt paid child support since april of 2012 and we have joint custody and he has visitations. I filed full custody of my children and got denied every time i went into courts. He moved to puerto rico and dont know his address. What can i do?

    • From your post, I’m not sure what remedy you are seeking exactly. If you are worried about custody or placement, there may be no need. If he isn’t here, then he isn’t participating anyway. So, I’m not sure what the concern is. If you would like child support, then more information is needed. Your best bet is to seek a consultation with an experienced family lawyer in your county. Most attorneys offer free consultations. You can discuss all of your concerns with that attorney and he/she can tell you what your best options are. Good luck.

  5. I have a question…I have sole custody of my daughter and am not married/nor ever been married to her father. I am wanting to move out of state and I have full custody with no visitation. Everything was stripped from him and he has not seen her or tried for any visitation in over 2 years. Do I go through the courts or give notice?

    • If the other parent is granted periods of physical placement, then the other parent must follow the statutory requirements as set forth in this article. This includes 60 day written notice of an intent to move. However, if the other parent has no court ordered placement, then the statutory rules do not apply and a parent can move without the other parent’s consent. It can be a crime, however in certain circumstances to conceal the whereabouts of a child from the other parent. Therefore, I generally recommend that parents keep the other parent advised of the child’s address after a move. If you have specific concerns or questions, you should consult with an attorney. I cannot give you specific legal advice as I do not know all of the facts of your situation.

  6. I was granted sole custody of my daughter in 2014 and granted permission to move out of state, which I did. The placement was also modified at that time. I now want to move to another state. Do I have to seek permission again?

    • You should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorneys who can tell you for certain after hearing all of the facts. However, generally, once you move from Wisconsin, you do not need permission to move again. The only problem would be placement and whether the subsequent move affects that. For example, it is far different exercising placement in Illinois than in California. Therefore, there could be some consequences with another move.

  7. I have recently moved out of state I sent a certified letter to my daughters dad stating where we are moving and why. I also dropped off a copy to the courthouse.After 60 days he still had not responded to the letter and i was actually ordered to pico the envelope back up from the post office (that was his correct address)After that my daughter and I moved away.i did everything I was supposed to do legally before we left and now he has filled a motion against me and is saying that if I don’t come back home I can serve jail time if i dont make the court date,nor am i planning on going.Is there any chance I will have to move back home even though I did everything expected before actually relocating?

    • It sounds as if you did follow the law but if he actually didn’t get notice, you may have a problem. I usually advise my clients to send both regular mail and certified mail. On the flip side, he chose not to pick it up and I understand that is the argument. You should hire an experienced family law attorney immediately to represent you in this and advise you as to what your best options are. Good luck!

  8. in 2012/13 I filed the intent to move to Missouri, after going to court, my son’s dad removed the objection, we agreed to a visitation schedule, and I moved to MO. In 2014 we moved back to WI for a job/family, we have recently lost that job, and have a new opportunity in Georgia. Do I need to file another Intent to move, or does the original still stand? Or was the original only for MO? The father and I were never married, paternity has been established, court case closed, do I still need his “permission” or can we go to GA and just work out a new visitation arrangement? Above I read “If there is no divorce or paternity case pending or a judgment previously entered, there are no restrictions on a move.” What do you mean by “a judgement previously entered”? How do I know if there’s a judgement? Please help.

    • In my opinion, you would need to initiate another move request. The first only applied to MO and, when you moved back, you subjected yourself to WI rules and procedures again. The judgment entered is your original court case in WI. As long as your child is a minor, there is a paternity case “pending” and you are subject to WI court jurisdiction. The case is not closed until your child is an adult. Good luck.

      • Hi I’m a mother of two who lives on Wisconsin. My children’s dad is active military and is stationed in kansas .we plan on filing for divorce haven’t yet ..we lived in NC then he came down on orders he went to kansas and I moved home to Wisconsin. Hes dragging his feet on the divorce and I’m ready to move on with my life and want to move back to North Carolina. Since theirs no official documents. Could I give him notice where I am going . And if he objects would it matter since he’s not in Wisconsin..or could he make me move back?

        • Jurisdictional issues are always tough and the military even further complicates matters. First, it is important to know who lived where and for what period of time. If you have lived in Wisconsin for at least 6 months, then we have jurisdiction over the children and he will have a hard time arguing against that. If he objected, he could have filed for divorce a long time ago. Be aware that if you move back to North Carolina, you again need to meet that 6 month requirement before NC has jurisdiction over the children. However, if you haven’t lived in Wisconsin for 6 months and previously lived in North Carolina, then North Carolina may still retain jurisdiction over the children. Second, since there is not a pending action, there is no rule that prevents you from moving. And if you have never lived in Kansas, that state does not have jurisdiction over you or the children. Therefore, he could not file there anyway nor would Kansas have the authority to order you and the children to move there. Lastly, since you already have lived in North Carolina and he is not living with you, I would think he would have a difficult time arguing against it.

          As you can see from the above and as I said before, jurisdictional issues and situations are EXTREMELY complicated and not for the inexperienced. You definitely need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to develop a
          “plan of action” which will work best for you and your children. You need to decide whether to file here in Wisconsin, which likely has jurisdiction if you have been here 6 months, and then request to move OR whether to move and then file in North Carolina after the required period of time. I cannot advise you or help you with that decision in this forum. Good luck!

          • With their dad being military and stationed in kansas.. Would he have to file their or could he file in Wisconsin? If I move to North Carolina and he files a motion in Wisconsin would I have to move back To Wisconsin?

            • I’m sorry – I really can’t answer any more questions without additional facts. Again, I encourage you to meet with an experienced attorney. As I said, most attorneys have free consultations. Good luck.

  9. My friend who currently lives in WI has 2 children. She and her boyfriend never married however he is the father and his name is on both kid’s birth certificate. They are now separated and she filed for custody of both kids. They went to court but couldn’t decide on the custody so they were referred to a mediation. The ex boyfriend refused to pay for the service, so now case is closed. Her kids are living with her and they still see their dad regularly. Recently he had filed for child support and claimed the kids live with him. My questions are…
    1. Is she free to move out of state and take her kids with her?
    2. Does she have to notify the ex boyfriend and report to court?
    3. Can he still object to her moving and taking kids with her?

    • These are all very complicated questions with important facts that may be left out of your recitation. I always am concerned when I get facts second-hand and some of the things you set forth don’t make sense – a case doesn’t get dismissed if the other party doesn’t “pay” for service as that isn’t really their obligation to do so. Therefore, I strong recommend that your friend consult with an experienced family law attorney who can go through everything with her so that she may make those important decisions and act legally. Most family law attorneys have free consultations so it is well worth her while to sit down with someone to discuss her situation.

  10. OK question. I live in Madison Wisconsin and I want to move to Hammond Indiana (3 hours away) I have a minor child (8 years) if he agrees with the move could he possibly speak for himself?

    • When you say if “he agrees with the move”, do you mean the father or your son? If you mean the father, if he agrees to the move, then you can go. You need that in writing, however. If you mean your son, then he has nothing to do with this. Kids don’t get to decide and even if they do, he is too young. You should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to discuss all of your options and what you need to do in this situation.

  11. I have visitation with my son every weekend;(COURT ORDER ) However I received a letter from his mother stating that she is moving to a different state, and that I can see him during spring break and 3weeks in July and that I agreed to provide airfare to get my son. First of all I object to this because I had to take her to court just to get visitation with him in first place and 2nd I’m I have a disability and on a fixed income so I can’t provide airfare.

    • Thank you for your post. In Wisconsin, a party cannot move with the child out of state without the other party’s consent or court order. She has to give you 60 days notice. You have 15 days to object (in writing). You need to file your objection with the court as well. From there, she cannot move and the burden is on her to request court permission. However, to be safe, I always recommend to my clients that YOU then file a motion requesting an order preventing her from moving. You should also consult with an experienced divorce attorney to explore all of your options and make sure you are taking all necessary and correct actions. Good luck.

  12. I live in Missouri. My 18 year old daughter and her daughter (my grandchild) moved to WI in March to be near her boyfriends family. Neither have been able to find jobs since then and my daughter wants to move back home with the baby, so she can finish her education. There has been no custody arrangement because they have been together since child was born last Dec. Baby has my daughter’s last name, but I have never seen the birth certificate so not sure if he is listed as father. Question is, if I go to WI to get them, will we get into trouble?

    • If there has been no formal determination of paternity, the father has no legal rights and, therefore, the mother can move wherever she wants. In Wisconsin, only if the father has been awarded periods of placement by the court, does this become an issue and she is somewhat restricted. If that has not happened, the statute prohibiting a move out of state is not applicable. There are also some criminal statutes which may apply wherein she cannot conceal the whereabouts of a child from the other parent. As long as she lets him know where she is, she will not get into trouble for this either.

  13. I am a single never married mother, my son’s father’s name is on the birth certificate. We have not gone to court for anything and decided on a temporary agreement between us, in which it states joint custody and I have Primary Placement. I would like to move out of state with my son (allowing visitation) and have a couple questions.
    Does the 60 day notification apply to me?
    Does the temporary agreement have any legal merit?
    Can we agree without court and it be legally binding?
    If I move to another state, if he decides to file with court then, would it be against me in my new state, or would i have to come back to WI for court?

    • The answer to your first three questions is no. If he has not been legally determined to be the father by the court, no placement agreement is binding unless it is approved by the court and you are free to move because he technically has no legal placement rights. As to the last question, Wisconsin has jurisdiction over custody and placement for 6 months. After that, your new state has jurisdiction and any actions would have to be there. If he files within the first 6 months, the action must be here but you wouldn’t necessarily need to return to Wisconsin. I have a lot of cases where one of the parties’ lives out of state and most court appearances can be done by phone, especially if you have an attorney. Child support is different, by the way, and would have to be here regardless of where you live. Jurisdiction issues are very complicated and you would definitely need to consult with an attorney about the facts of your case.

  14. Hi- I am 8 months pregnant and my boyfriend and I are breaking up. I have a place to stay where a nice sized room will be provided for me and my baby/nursery. It would be a nice place for me to get back on my feet seeing as while together, I got put on restrictions and he had me move in with him so he could pay the bills for a few months before and after the baby came. So, I would be starting over.

    I will be breastfeeding as well, which means the baby will need to be close. I’m thinking about offering weekend visits if I return back to Milwaukee for him to see her. He most likely will fight this but what are your thoughts? Will he have to pay child support? All of the laws online are confusing to me.

    Thanks,
    Tiffany

      • A paternity action must be filed where the baby is born and/or where you are living. So, you might want to consider moving prior to the baby being born. Otherwise, you may end up in court here, rather than where you are located, which could be very inconvenient and expensive for you.

    • First, it is important to know that you have sole control at this point and your boyfriend has no legal rights to have any say over you or the baby. Therefore, you can do what you want. It sounds as if you have a good plan in place and I encourage you take advantage of whatever resources you have available to you. Once the baby is born, either one of you can petition the court to establish his legal rights by filing a Petition for Paternity. Even then, however, it takes a while for that to work its way through the courts, especially if one of you requests a DNA/paternity test. Only when legal paternity is established does he have any legal rights, including custody and placement, or has to pay child support. There are advantages (the child support) and disadvantages (custody and control) over trying to establish paternity right away. You should consult with an experienced family law attorney right away – even before the baby is born – to go through all of your options and determine what plan is right for you. The father can always file for paternity as well. Our office offers free consultations and we practice in Milwaukee County. If you are interested, call us at 414-258-1644 to schedule an appointment.

  15. what happens if non-custody parent does not pick up letter of intent to move out of state?? he is also to see a GAL but has refused in the last 4 months.

    • I’m sorry but I don’t have enough facts to answer your questions. Please consult with an experienced family law attorney who can go through all of the facts of your situation with you in order to be able to answer all of your questions.

  16. I have placement of my three children and my ex-husband has been a resident of CO for 2 1/2 years. He is behind in child support and refuses to make payments until he is made to do so. I’m struggling to make ends meet in Northern WI and would like to move to KY where my family resides. How difficult would it be to file a motion to move? He has rarely seen our children since moving and there is only reasonable visitation in place for him.

    • You should talk to an experienced family law attorney for advice but, generally, if the other parent is no longer a resident of Wisconsin, they are hardly in a position to complain if you also want to move from Wisconsin. You need to provide him with 60 days written notice. If he doesn’t object within 15 days, then you can move. Even if he does object, I would doubt very much if the court would deny your request. However, there are facts of every situation that sometimes are unique which is why you should always speak with an attorney about your options.

  17. Does a parent have to give you a notice of move even if its les than 150 miles away can you object to a move thats is an hour away from primary residence. Joint custody shared placement in WI.

    • I’m sorry but I don’t understand your entire question. You have to give notice of move if out of state or more than 150 miles. In reality, however, if you move an hour away, this may significantly affect your placement schedule. For example, if you have shared placement and one party moves an hour away, you can no longer do that schedule and someone would need to have primary placement. If there is no agreement, the court would have to decide and, truthfully, the court will almost always want to keep the child in his or her current school and environment unless there are unusual circumstances. Further, changing the child’s school due to the move is a joint custodial decision and the other parent can object which means the child stays in his or her current school. If you find yourself in this situation, on either side of the equation, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney for advice.

  18. The father is not on the birth certificate. Mother is not marry.The father do not have a relationship with the child. Took a DNA test order by Wisconsin for child support.. Because mother receive government assistance. The results have not came in yet. I move out of state with my newborn. Do I have to return to Wisconsin for court, if other parent file for custody rights?

    • I am a little confused by the facts and very reluctant to give you legal advice in this setting. I strongly suggest you meet with an attorney experienced in family law to discuss this thoroughly. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations. Good luck!

  19. I have a daughter who lives with her mother and she is planning on moving out of state from Wisconsin and im paying child support. Do i have to continue to her child support is she moves out of state

    • In most circumstances, a child may not move out of state without your consent or court approval. If you do not agree to this move, you should file a motion with the court right away, objecting to the move. If you do agree, then child support still continues. Your daughter still has all of the same needs, regardless of where she resides. If there is an issue as to travel costs to be able to see her, that can be addressed separately.

  20. My daughter’s boyfriend and father of her 20 month old and 5 week old has moved from Wisconsin to Kentucky. There is child support ordered in place for the 20 month old and one pending for the newborn.There is no visitation or placement issued for either child. She is wanting supervised visitation in Wisconsin established due to criminal history now that they have split. What does she have to do? Can he move that far without notice and no existing judgement?

    • I am a little unclear as to your facts and question. However, I can tell you that if the original paternity adjudication and order is in Wisconsin, then he can move wherever he wants to but not with the children. He also cannot take the children out of state without her consent, especially if there are no orders. In fact, if there are no custody and placement orders at all, he has no right to any kind of placement and she can dictate whatever she wants in that regard. However, people get confused about court in paternity matters, what was really ordered and what they can or cannot do. Her best best is to consult with an experienced family law attorney to go over all of the facts and the events as they have occurred to determine her best course of action. Most family lawyers offer free consultations and she is better safe than sorry.

We welcome your comments or questions. We will do our best to try to respond. However, please be advised that we cannot give legal advice in this forum and all communications are for general informational purposes only. Communication should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. This is an open forum and any information you provide may be posted and will not be held confidentially. By posting a comment or question, you are expressly giving consent for the publication of same. If you have any specific legal issues or concerns, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney in the county and state in which you reside.

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