Legal Question in Family Law in Wisconsin

Moving out of state

Hi, I'm thinking about moving out of state with my son, I have joint custody and my son is placed with me, his father has had nothing to do with him in over 5 months. My son even wrote a letter to the judge stating that he wanted his father to give up parenting rights of him and to move with me. I want to add that I have a protective order against my ex. My son is 16 and I know he is well above of legal age to decide for himself. Legal age is 12 here in wisconsin. my son and I want to move out of state. 1) Better schooling for my son 2) Better jobs for myself 3) Better interests for my son 4) My son loves my new spouse they get along really well. My ex didn't get him anything for christmas and didn't even invite my son to the wedding he got remarried. So I was wondering if I could move out of state?

Asked on 2/12/09, 6:24 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Thomas Olson David F. Gram & Associates, LLC
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Re: Moving out of state

I am afraid you are very much mistaken. There is NO magic age in Wisconsin at which children get to determine their own custodian. As a practical matter, when a child reaches about age 14 the child’s wishes often take on a greater importance. But the child’s wishes are ALWAYS relevant and NEVER controlling. It all depends on the degree of maturity of the child and the reasons expressed.

In addition there are very specific requirements to meet if you wish to move out of state (or more than 150 miles even if it is within the state). Please see Wis. Stat. 767.481 which states in general that a parent with legal custody of and physical placement rights to a child must provide not less than 60 days’ written notice to the other parent, with a copy to the court, of his or her intent to establish a legal residence with the child outside the state or at any location within this state that is at a distance of 150 miles or more from the other parent. The notice under is to be sent by certified mail and must state specifically your proposed action, including the specific date and location of the move. The other parent may object within 15 days after receiving the notice by sending to the parent proposing the move a written notice of objection to the proposed action and send a copy of the objection to the court,

If you receive a notice of objection within 20 days after sending your notice of intent to move you may not move with the child pending resolution of the dispute unless you obtain a temporary order to do so. Upon receipt of a copy of a notice of objection, the court must promptly refer the parents for mediation or other family court services.

If your ex objects to the move you must follow the procedures and meet standards in order to be granted permission to move. If you fail to follow them, the court can deny you the right to move and can even change the placement schedule to your detriment. On the other hand if you follow the procedure and your ex does NOT object in the way required by the statute you may move without ever having to have a hearing. So you need to follow the statutory procedure and should have done all the specific homework so that you can show the court SPECIFICALLY how it is that there is better schooling for your son and/or a better job for yourself and /or better interests for your son, etc. I highly recommend you discuss this with an attorney to help you.

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2/13/09, 10:40 am

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