Child Custody law regarding moving

Spring is here; summer is coming; and thoughts of moving are in the forefront of the minds of many, many people. I would like to take some time just to review what must happen before moving children farther away from the other parent.

Wisconsin has adopted changes in the law regarding a parent’s move away from the other parent and in 2017 amended Wis. Stat. 767.481. Please keep the following in mind if you plan on moving this year:

1.     If a Court has granted periods of physical placement to both parents and one parent intends to relocate and reside with the child one-hundred (100) miles or more from the other parent, that parent must file a Motion with the Court seeking a provision to relocate with the child.

That Motion must include a relocation plan that gives the date of the proposed relocation; the municipality and state of the proposed new residence; and, the reason for the relocation. The plan must also propose a new placement schedule that considers placement on holidays, school years, and summers. The placement plan must also address the responsibility and allocation of transportation costs of the child.

2.     Once the Motion is filed with the Court, the other parent has five (5) days to objection. The other parent must be provided with an objection to relocation form as part of the Motion filed by the parent who wishes to relocate. The Motion can be served (that means given to) the other parent by mail at the address that is the most recent address for the other parent on file with the Court. If the parent filing the Motion has actual knowledge that the parent has a different address, the parent must mail the Motion to both the address that the Court has and the address that they know the other parent lives at.

3.     Now this procedure does not apply if parents already live more than one-hundred (100) miles apart. If parent who already live more than one-hundred (100) miles apart intend to move further from the other parent, they must give a notice providing the other parent at least sixty (60) days-notice of the relocation. The relocation notice only needs to give the date on which the parent intends to relocate and the new address.

4.     After the filing of the Motion to relocate, the Court must hold a hearing within thirty (30) days of the date the Motion was filed. If the Court finds at this initial hearing that the parent who is not moving was properly served and that parent does not appear at the hearing or appears at the hearing but does not object to the relocation plan, then the Court must approve of the proposed relocation plan.

If the parent who is not moving appears at the initial hearing and objects, then the objecting parent states in writing the basis for their objection and proposals for new placement schedule and also a proposal for sharing transportation costs. After the initial hearing, the Court may refer to the parties to mediation in most cases.

5.     After the initial hearing, the Court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem. During this process, the moving parent may ask the Family Court Commissioner to hold a hearing to make a determination that the parent who proposed to relocate may relocate with the minor child if the relocation is in the child’s immediate best interest. Once the Family Court Commissioner makes a decision, the party who does not like the result, can seek a review by the Circuit Court. That review must be held within ten (10) days after the Court Commissioner orally issues their ruling. The Circuit Court Judge must hold the De Novo Hearing within thirty (30) days after the Motion requesting the De Novo Hearing is filed.

There are many factors that go into the Court’s decision and many presumptions that may favor a parent depending on the specific fact circumstances that are presented.

It is extremely important that you consult with an attorney if you are going to move with the minor child more than one-hundred (100) miles from the other parent.

Our first consultation is at no charge. Please call us and talk to us about your legal situation.