Before your divorce, moving to a new town or state with your kids was a mere matter of working out the details with your partner. Now that you are no longer married and you and your ex have shared custody and placement rights, changing your residence is going to be much more complicated. However, life circumstances happen, and a parent may need to move for a job or another valid reason. Here are some considerations for relocating with your child after a Wisconsin divorce.
Your Parenting Plan
In many cases, parents and their attorneys work out the details of their parenting plans on their own. If the plan has a term that discusses relocation, you will need to start there. If your past agreement no longer works because of a significant change in your circumstances, you and the other parent will probably have to negotiate another agreement or return to court to request a placement change.
In 2018, Wisconsin made significant changes to its relocation statute. Under the former law, a parent with physical placement only had to provide the other parent with notice of his or her intent to move and an opportunity to object if the new residence was going to be in another state or more than 150 miles away. Now, a new version of the statute applies to cases filed on or after April 1, 2018.
The current law mandates that a relocating parent provide notice of any move more than 100 miles away or to another state, and absent agreement between the parents requires that the parent seeking to move file a motion asking the court for permission. This motion must have a relocation plan and include detailed information, including:
- The date of the proposed relocation;
- The municipality and state of the proposed new residence;
- The reason for the relocation;
- If applicable, a proposed new placement schedule, including placement during the school year, summers, and holidays;
- The proposed responsibility and allocation of costs for each parent for transportation of the child between the parties under any proposed new placement schedule; and
- If applicable, a request for a change in legal custody.
The court must hold an initial hearing within 30 days of the filing of the motion. During this time, the child cannot relocate. If the other parent files an objection, the parties will be sent to mediation and the child will be appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) to advocate for his or her best interest. If an agreement cannot be reached, the GAL will do his or her work and provide the court with a recommendation. The final hearing on the matter must be held within 60 days of the filing of the motion for relocation.
Even when a parent is moving less than 100 miles away, there can be significant issues with placement and custody. If you are facing a relocation issue, it would be best to meet with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your options.