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Family law doesn’t travel as easily between states as families do

Many people live in Wisconsin and work in Minnesota, or vice-versa. Traveling between the two states is so common that some of us hardly think about it. However, the law does not travel as freely between state borders as individuals do. When one parent moves to another state, even if it’s just a few miles away, it can create a very complicated situation for child custody law.

Child custody, like other aspects of family law, is governed by the law of the state where the parties reside. If both parents and the child live in Minnesota, their child custody arrangement, child support orders and other matters are controlled by Minnesota law. If they all live in Wisconsin, these issues are controlled by Wisconsin law.

Generally, the state where the child resides most of the time is the state that oversees compliance with child custody orders. However, each state has its own residency requirements and other specific issues. In addition, parents have custody rights, and these can be difficult to enforce across state lines.

For these and other reasons, a parent who plans to move out of state must generally notify the other parent and the court of their intentions, especially if they are the parent the child lives with most of the time. The other parent typically consents to the move, but a parent has the right to challenge interstate relocation in court.

While courts don’t often tell a parent they cannot move out of state, but they can require the parents to make modifications to their child custody arrangements and other agreements so as to accommodate the needs of both parents. As always, the most important factor is the court’s determination of what is in the best interest of the child.