As a general principle, parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children – including where they will live and with whom. However, when a custody order is in place and/or one parent objects to the possible relocation of the children with the other parent, this fundamental right becomes restricted in certain ways. In today's post, we explore the notion of parental relocation in Michigan, including the limitations, duties and parameters set by the law as pertaining to divorced or separated parents wishing to move out-of-state or abroad. As always, if you have a question about this highly-nuanced area of the law, do not hesitate to contact us today!
Under Section 722.31 of the Michigan Consolidated Laws, a child with a custody order already in place has a so-called “legal residence” with each parent, regardless of physical placement. Keeping this in mind, a parent of a child in this situation is prohibited from moving that child further than 100 miles from the child's legal residence – which is determined at the time the custody order is entered.
Of course, every good rule has its exceptions, and Michigan's relocation statute is no different. The above-described prohibition on relocation can be overcome under a number of specific circumstances. First, if the other parent agrees to the move and enters a consent to the move, the legal restriction against relocation would be considered inapplicable. Secondly, the relocating parent may petition the court to approve the relocation. In order for the court to enter an order permitting the child(ren) to move, it must consider the following factors:
- Whether the relocation has the potential to improve the quality of life for both the parent and the child;
- The degree to which the relocating parent has complied with the current parenting time (visitation) order. The court will also consider whether the relocation is sought in order to frustrate the other parent's attempts at visitation;
- Whether the relocation will still allow for meaningful parenting time between the child(ren) and the non-relocating parent;
- Whether the non-relocating parent's opposition to the change is motivated by financial factors as concerning child support calculations, and;
- Any instances of domestic violence as involving either party, and whether the child was a witness.
To learn more about relocation and child custody issues in Michigan, please be sure to contact our office right away for a consultation.
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To make an appointment to discuss child custody or relocation, please call Byers & Goulding, PLLC: 248-340-0900.