Does Relocation Affect My Custody Arrangement?

If you are in the middle of a custody settlement or have an established one, relocation can become a point of contention between you and the other parent. Not only can relocation spark debate, but it can also be a legal issue within your custody arrangement. Keep reading to learn more.

Michigan Relocation Laws

It’s important to understand that depending on the type of custody arrangement you have, you may or may not be able to relocate for work or any other reason, with the children. Generally, Michigan law allows one parent to move up to 100 miles away from the area they lived in at the time of the custody order. You cannot move out of state with the children without an agreement from the other parent or an order from the court. There are no restrictions on a parent who wants to move closer to their child.

The law requires that you have permission from the other parent, or an order from the court to move more than 100 miles or out of the state or country with the children. The primary concern of the court regarding relocation is not the distance, but the barriers to sharing parenting time. For example, if you need to move 100 miles away, but parenting time exchanges are not too burdensome and the other parent is still able to attend the children’s events, then the other parent may agree. However, if parenting time exchanges now involve flights between states and one parent can no longer easily and readily attend children’s events, there are certain factors the court must evaluate before permitting children to move. The primary focus of the court is to maintain parental bonds with the children and some long-distance moves would make that very difficult and expensive.

If both parents do not agree on the move, the parent requesting the move must file a motion to permit the relocation.  Without an agreement between the parties, the court must hold an evidentiary hearing to determine if the move would benefit the child while not destroying the bond with the other parent.  A move with the children may be permitted with a modification of parenting time to account for the new distance between the parents.  This may be possible, but the process, absent an agreement between the parents, is long and can be very expensive.  The factors involved should be weighed in advance of filing a motion and all other options should be considered beforehand.

Understanding 100 Miles

The law is specific about how the 100-mile limit is understood. The proper method for calculating the distance between the current legal residence and the proposed residence is to measure the distance by radial miles, i.e., on a straight line or “as the crow flies,” rather than by road miles.

A noncustodial parent has no restrictions on location, but they must report any change of address to the Friend of the Court if paying support.   In addition, parties could, in a consent judgment or order, agree to more (or less) severe restrictions on their movements than required by law. If written consent is given by a non-custodial parent for the custodial parent to move with the children, an order still must be entered because the move requires court approval. 

What if the Other Parent Doesn’t Give Consent?

 In some cases, the other parent may not approve of the move. If that is the case, you must file a formal motion with the court requesting permission to relocate with the children. Once you file the motion, the court must conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine whether relocation would be in the children’s best interest.

The court will evaluate the following factors:

  • The degree to which each parent has complied with the current parenting plan
  • Whether either parent has a history of domestic violence
  • Whether the move would improve the quality of life of the child and relocating parent
  • Whether the proposed move is motivated by a desire to violate the parenting time order
  • The extent to which the move is motivated by a desire to gain a financial advantage through child support
  • Whether the court believes the existing parenting time schedule is amendable to changes like relocation

If the court finds that your motives for moving are in the children’s best interests, it may grant your request to relocate. On the other hand, if you are relocating to get more child support or prevent the other parent from seeing the children, the court will likely deny your request.

Relocating with Confidence

If you are considering moving with the children, the Law Offices of Elaine Stypula can help. We understand how complicated relocation and parenting time modifications can be and provide our clients the guidance they need to make and pursue these decisions to relocate with confidence.

Contact our firm today!

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