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Wisconsin Law on Moving With Child

If one parent is considered a custodial parent, i.e., has placement of the child more than the other parent, then the following applies:

If a custodial parent wishes to move with the child out of state or more than 150 miles from the other parent within the state, the custodial parent must give the noncustodial parent 60 days advance written notice by certified mail, with a copy to the court. The notice shall state the custodial parent's proposed move, including specifics on location and date of proposed move, and shall inform the noncustodial parent that he or she may object to the move by sending written notice of objection to the custodial parent and to the court within 15 days of receiving the 60 days written notice from the custodial parent.

If the custodial parent receives a written objection from the noncustodial parent within 20 days after sending the 60 days advance notice, the custodial parent is automatically prohibited from moving with the child pending resolution of the dispute unless that parent obtains a temporary order permitting the move on a temporary basis.

The parties will be referred to mediation to attempt to settle the dispute. A guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the child either upon referral to mediation or, as is more likely, if mediation fails to resolve the dispute.

Unless the parties agree to extend the time period, failure to mediate a solution within 30 days after referral to mediation will be deemed an impasse and the matter will proceed to a hearing before the court, provided that the noncustodial parent files a motion or petition seeking either a change of placement or an order prohibiting the move. Failure to file such a motion or petition would constitute abandonment of the objection to the move.

If the objecting parent is seeking a change in placement, the court may modify the placement if the court finds that the move will result in a substantial change of circumstances and the modification is in the best interests of the child. There is a statutory rebuttable presumption that continuing the current physical placement with the custodial parent is in the best interests of the child, and to overcome this presumption the objecting parent must show that the proposed move is unreasonable and not in the best interest of the child. The burden of proof is on the parent objecting to the move.

If the objecting parent is seeking a prohibition of the move, the court may prohibit the move if the court finds that the prohibition is in the best interest of the child. The burden of proof is again on the parent objecting to the move.

Whether the objecting parent is seeking a change of placement or a prohibition of the move, the factors the court must considering in making its decision are defined by statute as the following:

  • Whether the purpose of the proposed move is reasonable.
  • The nature and extent of the child's relationship with the other parent and the disruption to that relationship which the proposed move may cause.
  • The availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child's relationship with and access to the other parent.

If a custodial parent intends to remove the child for an extended time of more than 14 days duration from the child's primary residence, such as an extended vacation or staying with a relative, but this removal is not a permanent move, the custodial parent has an obligation to notify the other parent. However, the other parent does not have the same rights of objection as indicated above for proposed moves.

If parents have shared placement of the child, a move that disrupts the feasibility of shared placement must necessitate a modification of the placement order. Either parent may move the court to modify the placement order if mediation fails to resolve the dispute, and the court may modify the order if the court finds that the proposed move makes it impractical for the parties to continue to have shared placement and the modification is in the best interest of the child. The statute provides that the burden of proof is on the parent filing the motion (so the objecting parent should just wait and force the parent who wants to move to file the motion).

Wisconsin's child removal statute is 767.327.

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In determining child custody, the Wisconsin court considers the wishes of the parents, the preference of the child (if he or she is old enough to make an intelligence choice), the child's relationship with the family, the child's physical and mental needs, and his or her educational needs.
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