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What if I want to relocate after divorce?

by | Aug 10, 2021 | Child Custody And Placement

If your divorce recently was finalized, you might be ready for a fresh start. If you sold the marital home, you may be looking for a new place to live. If you were a stay-at-home parent, you might need a new job. Yet if you decide to relocate, that can impact your child custody agreement.

Wisconsin law about relocation

In Wisconsin, the court has granted periods of placement to both parents, a parent must seek court approval for a child’s relocation if they plan to move 100 miles away, whether that’s within the state of Wisconsin or outside of it.

The moving parent must file a motion which shall include the following information:

  • The date they plan to relocate
  • The municipality and state they will be relocating to
  • The reason they are relocating
  • A proposed new custody schedule, including placement during the school year, summer and holidays
  • How the parents plan to pay the costs and bear the responsibility of transporting the child between themselves when they switch custody time

If a parent objects to the relocation, they must notify the court.  The court will then look at the request with your child’s best interests in mind. In determining the best interests of a child, the court will weigh:

  • The age of your child
  • What your child’s school or care routine is and how relocating will impact that
  • How you can meet your child’s emotional and physical needs
  • What your physical and mental health is like
  • How safe your child is when they are in your custody
  • What arrangements are available for placement to the other parent.  For example, it is more difficult to transport an infant between Wisconsin and California vs. an older child to and from Chicago.

In the hearing about relocation and if you are objecting to the move, you will have to show how involved you have been in your child’s life and whether the move will negatively impact your relationship with your child. If you are requesting the move, you will need to show that there is a legitimate and compelling reason for the move.  For example, you must show documentation of how a new job will help you better financially support your child. Or if you plan to move closer to family members, you will need to show how your child will benefit by having additional emotional support with this relocation.

However, if you plan to relocate just to limit your child’s interaction with your ex, judges don’t like that. Wisconsin courts favor child custody arrangements that allow children to have both their parents involved in their life unless there are safety reasons not to.

Getting help when filing for relocation

You want to work closely with your family law attorney when you file for relocation and want to maintain having custody of your child. Your attorney can help prepare evidence to show how your relocation will benefit your child and how you are committed to giving your ex quality parenting time with your child too.

Sometimes, a relocation really will benefit you and your child. If you take the right steps to show the court that, you can have your relocation granted and get the new start you want.  However, be forewarned – the courts are often reluctant to grant relocation requests, especially when there is a substantial and/or positive relationship between the child and the other parent.