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Can I move away with my child?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2024 | Firm News

A chance to relocate for a job opportunity, to be closer to family or simply for a change of scenery becomes much more complicated when you share a child with someone.

If your co-parent does not agree to your relocation, you might not be able to move without a court order. This law applies in Wisconsin regardless of what your custody order says or even if you do not have a custody order.

When do I need the court’s permission?

The law states that any parent who wishes to move with the child 100 miles or more from the other parent must obtain approval from the other parent (in the form of a stipulation) or a court before moving.

Therefore, if you are going to move a few blocks over, across town, or anywhere within 100 miles of where you currently live, you do not need permission from your co-parent or a court.

However, if the move will significantly affect the placement schedule or transportation burden, best practice and good co-parenting would dictate a discussion with the other parent. You might need to modify your placement times or exchange arrangements to accommodate the move.

When your proposed move is 100 miles or more away, the law requires more. Speaking with the other parent is a must. There is no reason not to be up-front and truthful about the move and reasons behind it.

Fully explain your reasons for wanting to move, why the move is in your child’s best interest, and your proposal for a placement schedule that still allows the other parent meaningful time with the child.

Your co-parent has no obligation to agree to your move. In fact, it is common for parents to object to their child moving far away.

Filing a petition for relocation

You must then file a request with the court and argue your case for relocation. The first step in this process is filing a petition for relocation. The petition should be filed with the same court that your initial custody action took place.

Your motion must include a relocation plan containing the date you plan to move, your proposed new residence and the reason for the move. Ideally, you can also include a proposed new placement schedule.

Whether a court approves your move depends on many factors. Some of the main factors include the reason for the move and the impact the move will have on your co-parent’s placement time.

Generally, a move for reasons that enhance your’s and the children’s quality of life and enhance household income are more likely to be approved than for random, selfish or uncertain reasons.

For example, moving because you were promoted at your job is more likely to be approved than moving because you want to be closer to your new boyfriend/girlfriend.

Additionally, if you currently share placement and the move will only allow your co-parent to see your child once a month or less, your move is less likely to be approved because the law presumes that equal placement should stay in place.

You will generally attend mediation before having a hearing

Wisconsin courts typically give parents a chance to work out a solution to the issue themselves. Parents are usually required to attend mediation before a hearing on the proposed move is held.

There are benefits to mediation. A mediator is a neutral third-party who listens to both sides and offers guidance and suggestions for resolution.