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

***NOTE:  THE LAW IN WISCONSIN HAS CHANGED. PLEASE SEE OUR UPDATED BLOG POST ON THIS TOPIC:  New Wisconsin Statute Changes Procedure s to Move a Child’s Residence

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.