Common Questions About Moving Out Of State

Can I Move With My Children Away From My Home Town?

In the last year, the law in Wisconsin that addresses whether a parent can move has changed. This change went into effect April 5, 2018, and affects any new actions, in either a divorce action, or a paternity action, filed with the Court, requesting to move with a child. The new statute, Section 767.481, Wisconsin Stats., applies to cases that are originally commenced on or after April 5, 2018, or cases in which legal custody or physical placement order is modified on or after April 5, 2018. However, if your case started before April 5, 2018, and it has not been modified after April 5, 2018, then the previous move statute still applies.

This new statute requires that a parent seeking to move more than 100 miles from the other parent, regardless of whether or not that move includes crossing state lines, must file a motion with the court.

The previous move or relocation statute required that a parent seeking to move more than 150 miles or out of state to follow strict guidelines to provide notice to the non-moving parent of the intended move. Then the person who objected is the one who was required to file a motion.

If I Want To Move My Children, and The New Statute Applies, What Do I Need To Do?

You must file a Motion with the Court and include the following relocation plan:

  1. The date of the proposed relocation. Your intended relocation or move date must be at least 60 days out;
  2. The municipality and state of the proposed new residence;
  3. The reason for the relocation. This is where you explain to the Court why it is reasonable that you wish to move with your child(ren). For example: you got a new job, or your job requires you to relocate;
  4. If applicable, a proposed new placement schedule, including placement during the school year, summers, and holidays.
  5. The proposed responsibility and allocation of costs for each parent for transportation of the child between the parties under any proposed new placement schedule.
  6. If applicable, a request for a change in custody.

What If I Do Not Want Our Children to Move, But My Ex Does?

The new law also outlines how the parent not requesting a move must object to the move. This Objection must be filed no less than 5 days before the initial court hearing.

What If I Already Live 100 Miles Away?

Parents are not required to file a motion if they already live more than 100 miles apart. However, a moving parent is required to provide written notice in the event of a moved.

What Happens After A Motion is Filed?

The parties will attend an initial hearing within 30 days of the motion regarding the proposed move. The Court will make a determination as to whether the proposed move is in the best interest of the child, or not. There are certain requirements outlined in the statute for the parents to comply with. For example, the court may refer the parties to mediation, appoint a guardian ad litem, or set the matter for a further hearing to be held within 60 days of the initial hearing. The court can also temporarily allow the party child to move. The statute also outlines factors that the court shall consider in making a final decision to allow the child to move with the relocating parent at the final hearing.

What If I Want to Move, and The OLD Statute Applies?

If it is determined that the old statute applies, it may be important to know if your action is, or started out as, a paternity action, or a divorce action. If it was a paternity, some jurisdictions interpret the move statute not to apply. Depending on the circumstances, one parent may want to file a Motion to Modify Placement if either they wish to move, or they wish to prevent the other parent from moving. If the action started out as a divorce proceeding, then the old Move Statute applies.

How Do I Give Notice Of My Intent To Move under the Old Statute?

You must provide 60 days advance notice to the other parent explaining when and where you intend to move and the reasons for said move. If your spouse/ex-spouse objects, he or she can file an objection with the court but must do so within 15 days of receiving your notice.

It is wise to make no definite plans to move until you learn whether or not your spouse/ex-spouse will object.

What If My Spouse/Ex-Spouse Objects? Can The Court Really Tell Me I Can’t Move?

Yes. Or, more accurately, the court can prevent the children from moving which has the same effect. The law in Wisconsin is somewhat complicated but states that the court can either prevent the move or modify the custody and placement provisions if the court finds all of the following:

  1. The modification is in the best interest of the child.
  2. The move or removal will result in a substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the last order affecting legal custody or the last order substantially affecting physical placement.

You Mean The Court Can Award Custody Or Placement To My Spouse/Ex-Spouse If I Move?

Yes. It would depend on what type of relationship your spouse or ex-spouse has with your children and how much he/she sees the children but the court could transfer custody and/or placement to him or her if it feels it would be in the best interests of the children.

What If I Don’t Move More Than 100 Miles Away But Do Move Over An Hour Away?

In that case, your current placement schedule may not be workable due to the distance and either party may move the court to modify the placement schedule based upon the appropriate standard under the modification statute, Section 767.451. However, the court could still determine that it is not in the best interests of the children to move and/or change schools. Therefore, if the other parent’s residency permits, the court could still award placement to the other parent so that the children could remain in their current school district. Again, it is best to wait to make definite plans until you can be sure the other parent agrees or the court will agree that the children may move and change schools.