“I want to relocate out of state and we have joint custody. How do I go about it?” “What do I do if I want to move and am a custodial parent?” “How do I move if I am part of a custody agreement?” “My ex wants to relocate with our child. What can I do about it?” It’s a common question, and the answer can vary from state to state (the answer below is for parents in Wisconsin). The answer can also depend on the terms spelled out in your specific custody agreement with the other parent. It’s best to consult with an experienced local lawyer when you are considering moving with your child.
What you must do if you want to move with your child
If you would like to move with your child out-of-state or 150 miles away from your residence in Wisconsin, you must give written notice to the other parent 60 days before the move. All written notices about the move (and possible opposition to) should be spelled out with required details and sent via certified mail with a copy sent to the court.
What you can do if the other parent files moving paperwork
The other parent has two options: 1) to agree to the move; or 2) to file the necessary paperwork to oppose the relocation with the court. The second option typically needs to be done within 15-20 days of receiving the notice, so the parent needs to file the paperwork—or contact an attorney for assistance—promptly. The court may order mediation so the parents can reach an agreement. Often no move can be made until an agreement is reached; ask your lawyer if you have the green light from the court before you make the move.
What the move may mean for your custody agreement
You may have to provide a burden of proof that the relocation is in the best interest of the child, by showing that the move is necessary to be closer to family or for a better living situation. If you are opposing the move, you need to provide a burden of proof that the change is not in the best interest of your child(ren). A move may trigger a change in your custody agreement, such as an adjustment to child support, visitation, or physical placement of the child. The outcome is decided by the court who determines the best interest of the child(ren).