If you have physical custody of your children, do you need the other parent’s permission to move out of Wisconsin? If your new job or new spouse are pulling you to a new situation, how do you manage your children’s custody arrangement?

What factors influence the situation?

If you would like to move a significant distance away from your co-parent, you may need to modify your custody arrangement. This may be a complicated legal situation. The following are a few of the factors that will impact your case:

  • Who has legal custody
  • Who has physical custody
  • How far away you already live
  • How far you plan to move
  • Child support status (if they are up to date on payments)
  • If the move is in the child’s best interest

Wisconsin law states that you must give the other parent a written notice if you plan to move out of state or 150 miles away within Wisconsin. However, your co-parent’s circumstances may give them grounds to contest the move at a shorter distance.

You must give this notice at least 60 days before you move if the other parent has visitation rights. Many co-parents discuss this decision at length in private meetings, with or without an attorney present. If you have the time, the earlier the better to discuss your planned change of address.

What if your co-parent disagrees with the move?

If you have sole legal custody of your children, and they spend most of their time with you, the state of Wisconsin will probably recognize that you have the child’s best interests in mind. However, the noncustodial parent could challenge your decision in court.

In that case, you may need to speak to a judge and explain why you need to move and how it keeps your children’s best interest in mind. If you succeed, they would modify the custody order (including support payments) and visitation time. If the judge is not convinced, the judge might prohibit you from moving your children. They may also hire a custody evaluator to review your case and make a professional recommendation.

The noncustodial parent may have significant financial incentive to challenge your desire to move. Less visitation hours could mean higher child support payments for them. If you are concerned that your co-parent could challenge your decision to move, you may want to explore your legal options.