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Relocation and Custody Orders: Considerations Before Accepting a Job Offer Requiring you to Relocate

On Feb 8, 2019

Receiving a job offer is usually a cause for celebration. When the offer is in a new geographic area, you have an opportunity to establish new roots and become part of a new community. However, if you and your minor child’s other parent share custody and placement, it’s important to understand how accepting a job offer outside the Waukesha area or far away from the other parent could impact existing custody and placement orders. Violating court orders can have serious repercussions, so it is important that you follow the required steps to obtain approval and modification of the current orders prior to relocating.


Wisconsin’s Two-Year Waiting Period and Exceptions to It

GavelWisconsin law places a two-year waiting period on modifications to legal custody or physical placement orders. The two-year period begins on the date of the final judgment or order that establishes or changes custody and placement. However, recognizing that outside factors may necessitate changes within that timeframe, the law provides for certain exceptions to the waiting period. Judges may modify custody and placement within two years of the judgment or order under the following circumstances:

  • The party seeking modification is able to demonstrate by a substantial showing of evidence that the current arrangement is physically or emotionally harmful for the child; or
  • The parents share equal placement time and modification would be in the best interest of the child when circumstances make it impractical for the parents to share equal physical placement.

The first exception above can be extremely difficult to prove. But if you share placement 50/50 with your child’s other parent, you may be able to seek modification based on the second exception.


Factors Wisconsin Courts Consider When Modifying Custody Orders

When you ask the court to modify a custody or placement order after the two-year waiting period has expired or when you believe an exception to the waiting period is warranted, the court will need to hear evidence to be able to make a determination about the requested change. In most cases wherein one parent wants to modify the current custody or placement order after the two-year waiting period, the parent is required to make a showing that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred that necessitates the modification and that the modification would be in the child’s best interests.

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However, in the case of one party desiring to relocate and reside with a minor child more than 100 miles from the other parent, that parent must first file a motion and seek permission from the court. The motion must include a relocation plan, which includes the moving parent’s reason for wanting to relocate.

If you can demonstrate that modification is warranted based on your job offer, the court will then determine whether the requested modification is in your child’s best interests, based on the information available. The Court will consider the parents’ motives in requesting or opposing a modification, the anticipated impact on the child’s quality of life, and the potential impact on the child’s relationship with his or her other parent, among other factors.


Your Family Law Attorney is a Valuable Resource

Sharing custody and placement of your minor child with your child’s other parent does not necessarily mean you have to avoid job opportunities that would require you to relocate outside of the Waukesha area. However, it is important to be cognizant of the potential impact a move can have on the custody and placement arrangement, and understand the process that the court will require in order for you to relocate far from your child’s other parent.

The family law attorneys and staff at Schott, Bublitz & Engel s.c. know that decisions involving legal custody and physical placement orders for minor children are never easy. We understand Wisconsin law, can advise you on the potential legal ramifications of various options, and can help you fight for modifications to existing custody and placement orders. To learn more and to schedule an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 262.827.1700.


AnnMarie Sylla

By AnnMarie Sylla

Attorney AnnMarie M. Sylla focuses her practice on representing clients across southeastern Wisconsin in litigation and family law including complex cases involving divorce, paternity, modifications of child custody and placement, child support and maintenance disputes. Attorney Sylla is known for her passion in fighting for her clients’ interests.

Disclaimer Policy: The information on this website is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be. You should always consult an attorney for advice for your individual situation. We invite you to contact us by letter, by phone or by email. Initial contact creates no attorney-client relationship. Please avoid sending confidential information to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established. 

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