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Can a Parent Relocate Out of State After Their Divorce?

 Posted on October 06, 2022 in Divorce

b2ap3_thumbnail_MeganDrury.jpgBy: Attorney Megan Drury

After going through a divorce, the lives of parents and children are likely to change. As new opportunities arise, new relationships are formed, and adjustments are made based on a person's goals, the time may come for a parent to consider moving to a new home. In some cases, these types of moves may be relatively minor, and they may involve a simple relocation to a different neighborhood or a nearby city. However, when a move is major, and a parent plans to move a significant distance away or outside the state of Wisconsin, the state's parental relocation laws may come into play. In these situations, the parent who is moving and the other parent will both need to understand the procedures that will be followed and the legal requirements they will need to meet when requesting or objecting to a move.

Parental Relocation Out of the State of Wisconsin

The relevant Wisconsin statute on parental relocation is Wis. Stat. 767.481, which provides that in situations where a child spends any periods of physical placement with divorced or separated parents, a parent may not move with their child more than 100 miles from the location where the other parent lives without requesting permission from the court. However, if parents already live more than 100 miles apart from each other, a parent will generally be allowed to move, as long as they provide the other parent with written notice 60 days before the move is expected to take place.

When requesting a relocation, a parent must file a motion with the court that states the date of their planned relocation, the city and state of their new home, and the reasons they are planning to relocate. If modifications to child custody or physical placement will be needed, the motion must include a proposed schedule for when the child will spend time with each parent, including during the school year, summer vacations, and other holidays. The parent must also detail how they expect transportation expenses for the child to be shared by both parents under the modified child custody plan.

An initial relocation hearing will be scheduled within 30 days after a parent files a motion with the court. If the other parent does not object to the relocation or does not appear at this hearing, the relocation request will typically be granted, unless the court determines that it would not be in the child's best interests. However, if the other parent does appear and objects, that parent will be given five days to file a response that states their reasons for objecting and provides proposals for how child custody, physical placement, and transportation expenses for the child should be handled. A final relocation hearing will be scheduled within 60 days, although parents will typically be ordered to participate in mediation and attempt to reach an agreement on how issues related to child custody will be addressed following the relocation.

If the parents are unable to resolve their disagreements about the relocation through mediation, they will each present their arguments and proposals at the final hearing, and a judge will make the final decisions based on what they believe will provide for the best interests of the child. Factors that may be considered in making this determination include:

  • The wishes of both parents;

  • The child's wishes; 

  • The feasibility of maintaining regular contact between the child and both parents; 

  • The parents' willingness and ability to cooperate and communicate with each other about child-related issues;

  • The child's relationships with the parents, their siblings or step-siblings, and other family members;

  • The child's need for stability and continuity in their education and social life; 

  • Whether there is any history of domestic abuse or drug or alcohol abuse by either parent; and 

  • Any other factor deemed relevant by the court

The judge may also consider whether the parent objecting to the relocation has failed to spend time with the child as specified in their child custody and physical placement order. If a parent is seeking to relocate due to instances of child abuse or spousal abuse by the other parent, it is presumed that the relocation request should be granted.

Contact Our Milwaukee Parental Relocation Lawyers

As you can see, there are specific procedures that must be followed during parental relocation cases, and there are many factors that a court will consider when deciding whether to allow a custodial parent to relocate out of state with a child. If you are contemplating such a move, or if you are concerned that your ex-spouse's plans to relocate will affect your relationship with your child, it is important to consult with an experienced Milwaukee, WI child custody attorney who can help you navigate this complex issue and advocate for your rights. For legal help, call Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, LLP at 414-271-1440 and schedule a free consultation today.




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