Child Relocation in Wisconsin

A parent involved in a case regarding relocation of a child more than 100 miles away from the other parent should consult Wisconsin Statute 767.481. Recent changes to the statute affect cases commenced after April 5, 2018.

If the court grants any periods of physical placement with a child to both parents and one parents intends to relocate the child more than 100 miles from the other, the parent who intends to relocate must file a motion with the court seeking permission. Per the above-mentioned statute, the motion must have the following: 1) a relocation plan, 2) a request for change in legal custody, if applicable, 3) notice to the other parent, 4) an attached “Objection to Relocation” form, furnished by the court, for the other parent, should he/she object.

The relocation plan needs to include the date of the proposed relocation, the municipality and state of the proposed new residence, the reason for the relocation, and a proposed new placement schedule, including placement during the school year, summers, and holidays, and the proposed responsibility and allocation of costs for each parent for transportation of the child between the parties under any proposed new placement schedule.

The provided notice to the other parent should state if he/she objects to the relocation, he/she must file and serve no later than 5 days before the initial hearing, an objection to the relocation and any alternate proposal, including a modification of physical placement or legal custody.

Once the relocating parent files this motion, he/she must serve a copy by mail to the other parent at his/her most recent address on file with the court. If the relocating parent knows that the other parent lives at a different address, a copy should be mailed to both the actual address and the address on file with the court.

After the motion is filed, the court will schedule an initial hearing within 30 days of filing and provide notice to the parents. The child may not be relocated pending the initial hearing.

If the non-relocating parent does not appear at the hearing but was properly served, or if he/she does not object to the proposed plan, the court will approve the plan unless it is not in the best interest of the child.

If the non-relocating parent appears at the hearing and objects to the plan, the court will require the objecting parent to state in writing within 5 business days, the basis for the objection and his/her proposals for a new placement schedule and transportation responsibilities and costs. The written response should be filed with the court and to the relocating parent at his/her actual address and the most recent address on file with the court.

The parties will be referred to mediation and a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed for the child. The matter will be set for further hearing within 60 days.

Relocation cases can be difficult and leave little room for settlement, depending on the distance between parents. Our firm has handled relocation cases, representing both the relocating parent and the objecting parent. If you have additional questions on how to initiate a relocation case or how to object to a relocation, please contact our firm to schedule a free consultation.

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About the Author: Annabelle Vang

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