Wisconsin Divorce-Law Information & Links
Divorce in Wisconsin is governed by Ch.
767 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
Wisconsin child-support calculator: http://www.alllaw.com/calculators/Childsupport/wisconsin/
Wisconsin is governed by the Uniform
Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act of 1997
Child Support Payments in Wisconsin:
Payments must be sent to the Wisconsin Support Collections Trust Fund ("WI SCTF"), Box 74200, Milwaukee,
WI 53274-0200. The annual fee increases after January 1, 2008 to $60.
Child Custody & Visitation:
Change of Residence. Section 767.481, Stats., outlines the law which controls notice to the other party with
respect to moving a child within or outside the state.
767.481 Moving the child's residence within or outside the state.
(1) Notice to other parent.
(a) If the court grants periods of physical placement to more than one parent, it shall order a parent with legal
custody of and physical placement rights to a child to provide not less than 60 days' written notice to the other
parent, with a copy to the court, of his or her intent to:
1. Establish his or her legal residence with the child at any location outside the state.
2. Establish his or her legal residence with the child at any location within this state that is at a distance
of 150 miles or more from the other parent.
3. Remove the child from this state for more than 90 consecutive days.
(b) The parent shall send the notice under par. (a) by certified mail. The notice shall state the parent's proposed
action, including the specific date and location of the move or specific beginning and ending dates and location
of the removal, and that the other parent may object within the time specified in sub. (2) (a).
(2) Objection; prohibition; mediation.
(a) Within 15 days after receiving the notice under sub. (1), the other parent may send to the parent proposing
the move or removal, with a copy to the court, a written notice of objection to the proposed action.
(b) If the parent who is proposing the move or removal receives a notice of objection under par. (a) within 20
days after sending a notice under sub. (1) (a), the parent may not move with or remove the child pending resolution
of the dispute, or final order of the court under sub. (3), unless the parent obtains a temporary order to do so
under s. 767.225 (1) (bm).
(c) Upon receipt of a copy of a notice of objection under par. (a), the court shall promptly refer the parents
for mediation or other family court services under s. 767.405 and may appoint a guardian ad litem. Unless the parents
agree to extend the time period, if mediation or family court services do not resolve the dispute within 30 days
after referral, the matter shall proceed under subs. (3) to (5).
(3) Standards for modification or prohibition if move or removal contested.
1. Except as provided under par. (b), if the parent proposing the move or removal has sole legal or joint legal
custody of the child and the child resides with that parent for the greater period of time, the parent objecting
to the move or removal may file a petition, motion or order to show cause for modification of the legal custody
or physical placement order affecting the child. The court may modify the legal custody or physical placement order
if, after considering the factors under sub. (5), the court finds all of the following:
a. The modification is in the best interest of the child.
b. The move or removal will result in a substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the last order affecting
legal custody or the last order substantially affecting physical placement.
2. With respect to subd. 1.:
a. There is a rebuttable presumption that continuing the current allocation of decision making under a legal custody
order or continuing the child's physical placement with the parent with whom the child resides for the greater
period of time is in the best interest of the child. This presumption may be overcome by a showing that the move
or removal is unreasonable and not in the best interest of the child.
b. A change in the economic circumstances or marital status of either party is not sufficient to meet the standards
for modification under that subdivision.
3. Under this paragraph, the burden of proof is on the parent objecting to the move or removal.
1. If the parents have joint legal custody and substantially equal periods of physical placement with the child,
either parent may file a petition, motion or order to show cause for modification of the legal custody or physical
placement order. The court may modify an order of legal custody or physical placement if, after considering the
factors under sub. (5), the court finds all of the following:
a. Circumstances make it impractical for the parties to continue to have substantially equal periods of physical
b. The modification is in the best interest of the child.
2. Under this paragraph, the burden of proof is on the parent filing the petition, motion or order to show cause.
1. If the parent proposing the move or removal has sole legal or joint legal custody of the child and the child
resides with that parent for the greater period of time or the parents have substantially equal periods of physical
placement with the child, as an alternative to the petition, motion or order to show cause under par. (a) or (b),
the parent objecting to the move or removal may file a petition, motion or order to show cause for an order prohibiting
the move or removal. The court may prohibit the move or removal if, after considering the factors under sub. (5),
the court finds that the prohibition is in the best interest of the child.
2. Under this paragraph, the burden of proof is on the parent objecting to the move or removal.
(4) Guardian ad litem; prompt hearing. After a petition, motion, or order to show cause is filed under sub. (3),
the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem, unless s. 767.407 (1) (am) applies, and shall hold a hearing as soon
(5) Factors in court's determination. In making its determination under sub. (3), the court shall consider all
of the following factors:
(a) Whether the purpose of the proposed action is reasonable.
(b) The nature and extent of the child's relationship with the other parent and the disruption to that relationship
which the proposed action may cause.
(c) The availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child's relationship with and access
to the other parent.
(5m) Other factors. In making a determination under sub. (3):
(a) The court may consider the child's adjustment to the home, school, religion and community.
(b) The court may not use the availability of electronic communication as a factor in support of a modification
of a physical placement order or in support of a refusal to prohibit a move.
(6) Notice required for other removals.
(a) Unless the parents agree otherwise, a parent with legal custody and physical placement rights shall notify
the other parent before removing the child from his or her primary residence for a period of not less than 14 days.
(b) Notwithstanding par. (a), if notice is required under sub. (1), a parent shall comply with sub. (1).
(c) Except as provided in par. (b), subs. (1) to (5) do not apply to a notice provided under par. (a).
Interference with Custody and Parental Rights.
Whoever intentionally violates the following criminal statutes may be punished by a fine of not more than $25,000.00
or imprisoned not more than twelve (12) years or both.
948.31 Interference with custody by parent or others.
(1)(a) In this subsection, "legal custodian of a child" means:
1. A parent or other person having legal custody of the child under an order or judgment in an action for divorce,
legal separation, annulment, child custody, paternity, guardianship or habeas corpus.
2. The department of health and family services or the department of corrections or any person, county department
under s. 46.215, 46.22 or 46.23 or licensed child welfare agency, if custody or supervision of the child has been
transferred under ch. 48 or 938 to that department, person or agency.
(b) Except as provided under chs. 48 and 938, whoever intentionally causes a child to leave, takes a child away
or withholds a child for more than 12 hours beyond the court-approved period of physical placement or visitation
period from a legal custodian with intent to deprive the custodian of his or her custody rights without the consent
of the custodian is guilty of a Class F felony. This paragraph is not applicable if the court has entered an order
authorizing the person to so take or withhold the child. The fact that joint legal custody has been awarded to
both parents by a court does not preclude a court from finding that one parent has committed a violation of this
(2) Whoever causes a child to leave, takes a child away or withholds a child for more than 12 hours from the child's
parents or, in the case of a nonmarital child whose parents do not subsequently intermarry under s. 767.803, from
the child's mother or, if he has been granted legal custody, the child's father, without the consent of the parents,
the mother or the father with legal custody, is guilty of a Class I felony. This subsection is not applicable if
legal custody has been granted by court order to the person taking or withholding the child.
(3) Any parent, or any person acting pursuant to directions from the parent, who does any of the following is guilty
of a Class F felony:
(a) Intentionally conceals a child from the child's other parent.
(b) After being served with process in an action affecting the family but prior to the issuance of a temporary
or final order determining child custody rights, takes the child or causes the child to leave with intent to deprive
the other parent of physical custody as defined in s. 822.02 (14).
(c) After issuance of a temporary or final order specifying joint legal custody rights and periods of physical
placement, takes a child from or causes a child to leave the other parent in violation of the order or withholds
a child for more than 12 hours beyond the court-approved period of physical placement or visitation period.
(4)(a) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for violation of this section if the action:
1. Is taken by a parent or by a person authorized by a parent to protect his or her child in a situation in which
the parent or authorized person reasonably believes that there is a threat of physical harm or sexual assault to
2. Is taken by a parent fleeing in a situation in which the parent reasonably believes that there is a threat of
physical harm or sexual assault to himself or herself;
3. Is consented to by the other parent or any other person or agency having legal custody of the child; or
4. Is otherwise authorized by law.
(b) A defendant who raises an affirmative defense has the burden of proving the defense by a preponderance of the
(5) The venue of an action under this section is prescribed in s. 971.19 (8).
(6) In addition to any other penalties provided for violation of this section, a court may order a violator to
pay restitution, regardless of whether the violator is placed on probation under s. 973.09, to provide reimbursement
for any reasonable expenses incurred by any person or any governmental entity in locating and returning the child.
Any such amounts paid by the violator shall be paid to the person or governmental entity which incurred the expense
on a prorated basis. Upon the application of any interested party, the court shall hold an evidentiary hearing
to determine the amount of reasonable expenses.