Parents with shared physical placement of their children, should keep in mind the laws establishing requirements of notice. Wisconsin Statute 767.481 provides rules concerning how to give proper notice in cases in which a parent wishes to move a child either 150 miles away from the other parent or out of state.
The moving parent should provide at least 60-day written notice to the other parent, with a copy to the court, by certified mail. The notice should state the moving parent’s action, the specific date and location of the move, and that the other parent may object within 15 days of receiving the notice.
The other parent must send a written objection to the moving parent and the court within 15 days of receiving the notice. If the moving parent receives a written objection within 20 days of sending the notice, the parent may not move with the child until the dispute is resolved through either a final court order or a temporary court order.
If you are a parent intending to move and the other parent has properly objected to the move, expect the court to refer you to mediation, family court services, or appoint a Guardian ad Litem. What you need to prove depends on the current placement allocation. Here are the possible scenarios:
Moving parent has primary placement of child
If the moving parent has greater placement time with the child, the objecting parent may file an order to show cause for modification of the placement order. In this scenario, there is a rebuttable presumption that continuing placement with the moving party is in the best interest of the child. This presumption can be overcome by showing that the move is unreasonable and not in the child’s best interest. If you’re a moving parent, take note that a change in economic circumstances or marital status does not meet the standards for modification.
The court will be willing to modify placement allowing the child to move if it finds the modification is in the best interest of the child and if the move will result in a substantial change of circumstances from the last order affecting placement.
Both parents have substantially equal placement of child
If both parents have substantially equal placement of the child, then either of them can file an order to show cause for modification of the placement order. The court can modify the order and allow the child to move if it finds that circumstances make it impractical for the parties to continue having substantially equal placement of the children, and modification is in the best interest of the child.
In coming to a determination of whether or not to allow modification of a placement schedule, the court will consider the following: whether the purpose of the move is reasonable, the nature and extent of the child’s relationship to the other parent and the disruption to that relationship that the move might cause, and the availability of alternative arrangements to continue the child’s relationship and access to the other parent. The court may also consider the child’s adjustment to the home, school, and community.
The court cannot order a parent to live in a designated part of a state in order to maintain custody. However, if the court is determining whether or not a placement schedule should be modified, it does consider an intent to move as a relevant circumstance.
The laws surrounding an out of state move are very particular and it would be best to seek legal advice from the start to ensure everything is done accurately. Our office has helped many parents in their efforts to move out of state with their children. Please call our office to schedule a free initial consultation.