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Parental Relocation in Wisconsin: When Can a Parent Move with a Child?

 Posted on May 04, 2023 in Uncategorized

Dane County Child Custody LawyerCo-parenting with an ex can be tricky, and the situation becomes even more complicated when a parent wants to move to a new residence with the child. If you or your child's other parent are interested in relocating, it is essential that you understand Wisconsin law regarding parental relocation. In this blog, we will discuss the basics of parental relocation in Wisconsin, what happens when a parent disagrees with a proposed relocation, and how Wisconsin courts make decisions about what is in a child's best interests.

What is Considered a Relocation Under Wisconsin Law?

If a parent moves within the same town or school district, this can typically be accomplished without the court’s involvement. The parents may need to work out a few minor issues, such as transportation of the child to and from school, but a parent will not be required to get court permission to move.

However, if a proposed move is significant, this may be considered a “relocation.” Specifically, a parent must get permission from the court to move if:

  • The new residence is more than 100 miles away from the other parent’s residence.

  • The parents do not already live more than 100 miles apart from each other.

Requesting Permission and Attending a Hearing

If a parent wishes to move and the move counts as a relocation, the parent will need to file a motion with the court explaining the reasons for the proposed relocation and the location of their new home. The motion should also include a “relocation plan” addressing any modifications to the placement schedule, transportation of the child between the two homes, and how travel expenses should be handled.

The court will schedule an initial hearing to take place within 30 days. If the other parent does not show up to the hearing or agrees to the move, the court will likely grant the relocation as long as the relocation is in the child's best interests.

However, if the other parent disagrees with the proposed relocation, the objecting parent will be asked to file a response explaining why they object to the move and how they believe placement, custody, and transportation matters should be handled.

The court typically requires parents to attend mediation and work toward a compromise in a situation like this. However, if mediation and other attempts to reach an agreement fail, the court will make the final decision about the proposed relocation. Each parent will have the opportunity to present their arguments and evidence to the judge during a hearing, and then the judge will issue a ruling.

How Wisconsin Courts Make a Decision About a Contested Relocation

During child custody-related disputes, Wisconsin courts strive to reach an outcome that is in the child's best interests. To determine what is in a child's best interest, the court will consider factors such as:

  • The child’s preferences

  • Each parent’s preferences and the reasons for those preferences

  • Each parent’s involvement in the child’s life

  • The parents’ ability to work cooperatively together for the benefit of their child

  • The child’s relationship with each parent and other family members

  • How the proposed relocation may affect the child’s education and social life  

  • Any instances of domestic violence or substance abuse by a parent

Contact our Madison Child Custody Lawyer for Help

If you intend to relocate with your child or you want to contest a proposed relocation from your child's other parent, our Madison family law attorney can help. Attorney John T. Fields has more than 35 years of legal experience. He has the legal knowledge, experience, and tenacity needed to fight for you during a family law dispute.



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