How Will a Move Impact My Custody Order in Michigan?
After your divorce, you and your kids settled into a new normal. You and your ex-spouse have observed the terms of the court’s custody order, and visitation has pretty much been ticking along like clockwork.
Then, one day, it happens: You realize you may want or need to move some distance away. What do you do?
This is not unusual, of course. As Americans, we live in a mobile society. An ex-spouse may want to move to take a new job, for family issues or to remarry.
Whatever your reason for a move, remember: it’s not all up to you. Michigan law is written to support the involvement of both parents in a child’s life. Moving isn’t out of the question, but there are limits on whether, when and how far a parent can move away with their child.
Let’s say you share joint custody of your child with the other parent. Under Michigan law you can move up to 100 miles away within the state without the court’s blessing or even the other parent’s consent. You might receive some pushback from your ex-spouse if the distance creates a hardship in maintaining the existing parenting schedule. But within the law, 100 miles (by normal road travel) is permitted.
Beyond 100 miles, you’ll need the other parent’s consent or the approval of the court. It’s always better to have the other parent’s consent in writing. Without such consent, the court will have to get involved.
A judge will consider a variety of factors before approving the move, including whether it means a better life for the relocating parent and the child; the logistics of the parenting schedule; and whether there is evidence of domestic violence.
There are two exceptions that pertain to the 100-mile rule:
- If you and the other parent already lived more than 100 miles apart at the start of custody proceedings, so long as you stay in Michigan you won’t need court approval to move farther away.
- If you are under threat of domestic violence, you don’t need the other parent’s consent or court approval to move to a safe location with your child. You must inform the court of the new location; the court will then determine your right to remain where you are.
If You Have Sole Legal Custody
Moving is easier if you don’t share legal custody of your child. As long as you stay within the borders of Michigan and make the court aware of your new address, you can move without consent of the other parent or the court’s approval.
Over the Line
Moving out of state requires permission of the court. If you have sole legal custody, and can persuade the court that the move will be positive for you and your child, it will probably be approved. If you share custody, the court will have to make a judgement based on the same criteria applied for distances beyond the 100-mile limit. The court will take special interest in maintaining your child’s relationship with the other parent. This may require extending visitation times, such as during summer vacations and holidays, to restore a balance.
If you’re looking to move, remember: Your child has two parents. Michigan law is aimed at preserving a relationship with both.
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