Milwaukee Child Support Professionals

When your livelihood, and the livelihood of your family, depends upon child support, you need the professionals

How to Move With Your Children More Than 150 Miles Away.

By Jeffrey W. Jensen


Life is unpredictable.  


And you would never do anything to harm your children's relationship with the other parent; but some situations are simply unavoidable when a family is split-up.   One such situation is where the employment of the  parent with primary placement requires him or her to move out-of-state (or more than 150 miles away from the other parent). 


What do you do if you find yourself in this situation?

The procedure that must be followed in the event of a move is governed by Sec. 767.481, Wis. Stats.    This section provides one of the longer and more complicated procedures in Wisconsin family law; however, the basics are made clear below.
When must I follow the procedure?
If you are divorced (or if you have primary placement under a paternity judgment) and if your ex-spouse (or the other parent) has periods of temporary placement (visitation) you are subject to the rule.   In the event that you propose to either move out of state, or to move more than 150 miles away from your present home, or if you plan to take the child out of state for more than ninety days, you must give the other parent written notice, by certified mail, with a copy to the court.   The notice must describe where you plan to go, when you plan to leave, and it is a good idea to add a description of why the move is necessary.   Finally, the notice must inform the other parent that they have a right to object to the move (you should also describe the procedure for objecting as set forth below).
How does the other parent object?
Once the written notice of the proposed move is served, the other parent receiving the notice has fifteen days within which to object.   The parent objects by mailing the written objection to the parent who is proposing to move and a copy of the objection must also be send to the court.  If the parent proposing the move receives an objection within twenty days of sending the notice that parent may not move with the child until further order of the court.   Upon receiving such a notice and objection the court will refer the parties to mediation  in an attempt to settle the issue short of a formal court procedure.  The court will also usually appoint a guardian ad litem.  The mediation must be completed within thirty days and, if it is not, the parent objecting to the move must file a motion to modify placement.
Motion to modify placement
If the issue is not settled through mediation then the parent objecting to the move must file a motion to modify the periods of placement.   The motion may ask the court to modify the periods of temporary placement (visitation) in light of the move or the motion may ask the court to award primary placement to the parent objecting to the move.  The court must grant the motion for modification if the court finds that the modification is in the best interests of the child and the move would create a substantial change in circumstances.  There is a strong presumption in favor of continuing the placement schedule that is in place. 
What are the "good reasons" for a move?
Sec. 767.481(5), Stats., lists the factors that the court must consider in deciding whether to permit the move.  That section provides:

(5) Factors in court's determination. In making its determination under sub. (3), the court shall consider all of the following factors:
(a) Whether the purpose of the proposed action is reasonable.


(b) The nature and extent of the child's relationship with the other parent and the disruption to that relationship which the proposed action may cause.


(c) The availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child's relationship with and access to the other parent.


(5m) Other factors. In making a determination under sub. (3):


(a) The court may consider the child's adjustment to the home, school, religion and community.


(b) The court may not use the availability of electronic communication as a factor in support of a modification of a physical placement order or in support of a refusal to prohibit a move.
 It is not possible to create an exhaustive list of all of the "good reasons" and all of the "bad reasons" for a move.  As s general rule, if the move is required in order to improve the living circumstances of the child (i.e. for a better job) the court will usually permit it.   On the other hand, if the judge believes that the move is being proposed to spite the other parent or because the parent with primary placement has a new boyfriend/girlfriend the move will probably not be permitted.
A motion to permit a move is a rather complicated and fast-moving process.  Therefore, it is not recommended that you attempt to accomplish this without the assistance of a lawyer.

Facing criminal problems?  Contact


Attorney Joel Mogren