I Received a Job Offer in Another State: How Does That Affect Custody and Visitation?

Categories: family law

child custody and visitation

While getting divorced can feel like the end of a long road, most former spouses will quickly realize that life goes on. Divorcees must adjust to their new financial circumstances; and, if they have children, they must adapt their personal and professional lives to fit the terms of their custody and physical placement arrangements.

But, once again, life goes on. Circumstances can change, and changes not anticipated during the divorce process can raise questions about parents’ options and obligations under the terms of their divorce. One common example of a major change that can have custody and physical placement implications is an out-of-state job offer.

I’m Divorced with Children – Can I Accept a Job Offer Out of State?

First of all, it is important to acknowledge that you are right to have custody-related concerns in relation to your new career opportunity. Under Wisconsin law, parents must strictly adhere to the terms of their custody and physical placement arrangements, and violating a custody order can have severe consequences. As a result, before you do anything that departs from the terms of your custody order (i.e., move to another state), you will need to seek to have your order modified in the appropriate court.

Wisconsin’s Two-Year “Waiting Period” for Child Custody Modifications

Another important factor that you will need to consider is Wisconsin’s two-year “waiting period” for requesting a child custody modification. Under Section 767.451 of the Wisconsin Statutes:

“Except as provided under [subparagraph 2], a court may not [a child custody or physical placement order] before 2 years after the final judgment determining legal custody or physical placement is entered . . . unless a party seeking the modification . . . shows by substantial evidence that the modification is necessary because the current custodial conditions are physically or emotionally harmful to the best interest of the child.”

As you can see, the two-year waiting period is not absolute. Parents can still request modification of their custody and physical placement arrangements within two years if their current arrangement is “physically or emotionally harmful” to the children. However, this is a difficult standard to prove, and seeking modification within two years of a divorce based on an out-of-state job opportunity (and not a child’s direct physical and emotional needs) can present a significant challenge.

The waiting-period statute also includes an exception for circumstances covered by “subparagraph 2.” This section of the law states:

“If the parties have substantially equal periods of physical placement . . . and circumstances make it impractical for the parties to continue to have substantially equal physical placement, a court . . . may modify the order if it is in the best interest of the child.”

So, if you and your former spouse share parenting time equally (or almost equally), obtaining a modification due to an out-of-state job offer can be easier. In any case, you will need to be able to demonstrate that your new custody arrangement will continue to serve the best interests of your children. Before you make any decisions that could impact your child custody rights, you should discuss your situation with an experienced attorney.

Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.

Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.

Speak with a Family Law Attorney in Wausau, WI

If you have a child custody order in Wisconsin and would like to discuss your options with regard to accepting an out-of-state job offer, contact the Wausau law offices of Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. To schedule a confidential initial consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers, call (715) 842-2291 or request an appointment online today.