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Parental relocation: moving with your child post-divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Firm News

After surviving the chaos of your divorce, the urge for a fresh start with your child in a new home must be saturating your thoughts. But before any drastic move, you must consider that your divorce, even after completion, still impacts every decision you make.

Michigan’s parental relocation laws generally require you to seek the judge’s approval, with specific caveats and a few exceptions.

Moving beyond 100 miles

Michigan’s 100-mile rule requires the judge’s permission and your spouse’s consent if you and your spouse share joint legal custody and you intend to move more than 100 miles from your child’s domicile or legal residence at the commencement of divorce. The rule applies unless your circumstances are any of the following:

  • Your spouse has no objections to your move.
  • Your new home is closer to your spouse’s residence than your old home.
  • You have sole legal custody of your child and your new home is still within Michigan. Also, you must still comply with court-ordered parenting time.
  • Your and your spouse’s residences are already 100 miles apart when the divorce process began. Also, you must remain in Michigan.
  • You need to seek a safe location due to domestic violence. You can take yourself out of the dangerous situation and alert the court afterward. Further, you must secure compelling evidence – photos, videos and witnesses – to justify your allegations.

As an added protection, have your spouse sign a consent order with information regarding your planned relocation. This documentation prevents your spouse from suddenly changing their mind while you’re already relocating, thus, trapping you into messy circumstances.

Moving out of state

Whether you have sole or joint custody, and with or without your spouse’s consent, any relocation outside of Michigan, even moving across state lines, requires a judge’s approval. The following are some of the judge’s considerations:

  • Will the move improve your and your child’s quality of life regarding housing, education and employment opportunities?
  • How can you and your spouse follow court-approved parenting time provisions ensuring both parties maintain a parent-child relationship?
  • What are your and your spouse’s intentions for the move? Is your motivation out of spite for your spouse? Is your spouse’s opposition driven by financial benefits regarding child support?

The court ultimately upholds your child’s best interests, which looks at an extensive list of growth and development factors establishing a stable, safe and satisfactory environment for your child, which always comes before parental needs.

Bridging the distance

Moving on with your life requires bridging equally important newfound hopes and family responsibilities. Thus, before making any major relocation plans, discuss your family’s unique situation with a legal representative to avoid possible court violations.