Parent Relocation Law Change

Wisconsin Family Law and Physical Placement of Children When a Parent Plans to Relocate 100 Miles or More Away

Under a 2018 Wisconsin family law revision, if a parent with any placement time with a minor child plans to move 100 miles or more away with a child, the process is more challenging than in the past if the other parent objects. Previously, if a parent intended to relocate more than 150 miles away (not 100), the relocating parent simply needed to notify the other parent they were moving. If the other parent agreed, the parent could move. However, if the parent objected, it would go through the court system to be resolved.

With the changes incurred under Wis. Statute 767.481, a parent who intends to move and reside with the child must file a motion immediately with the court (if they do not already live more than 100 miles apart). The relocating parent must submit a “relocation plan” with the court that includes: a new placement schedule, the reason for the move, the location of the new residence, and proposed costs and transportation plan for the children. If applicable, a request for change in legal custody must also be included.

In addition, the relocating parent must submit a notice to the other parent by mail, along with an “Objection to Relocation” form which must be filed by the other parent (if they object) and served no later than five days prior to the initial hearing.

If the parents already live 100 miles or more away, the parent relocating still needs to serve written notice of his/her intent to move (with the child) on the other parent at least 60 days before relocating.

What happens after the relocating parent files with the court their intent to relocate?

The court will schedule a hearing to be held within 30 days after the motion is filed. It is important to note that the child may not be relocated prior to the initial hearing.

If the other parent does not object, the court will approve the relocation plan unless it is determined it is not in the best interest of the child.

If the other parent appears at the hearing and objects to the relocation, the court will require that objecting parent (within five business days) provide the following: proposal of an alternative placement schedule, the reasons for the objection, costs and transportation plans in the event that the court approves the relocation.

The parent objecting to the move must file their response with the court and send a copy by mail to the other parent.

Keep in mind that the court may refer the parties to mediation and/or appoint a guardian ad litem for the child, and schedule a later hearing to be held within 60 days.

At any time during the relocation dispute, the court may issue a temporary order to allow the parent to relocate if it is determined that it is in the best interest of the child.

Will the court approve the relocation?

There are a number of factors that the court will look into when determining whether or not to approve a relocation of one parent with the child. For example, has the parent objecting to the move been using his/her court-ordered physical placement? Is there a history of abuse, neglect, drug use or other situations that are harmful to the child? Does legal custody need to be transferred to one parent resulting from the relocation request?

The family law attorneys at Murphy Desmond are experienced in handling physical placement and parent relocation. Because the process is more complex than ever, it is advised that you consult with a family law attorney if you are in a relocation dispute of any distance and have minor children.

Published December 19, 2018