In Michigan, as in many other states, people who are co-parenting after divorce have greater restrictions on how far away they can move. This is often called “change of domicile”. In a joint custody arrangement, a child would have two legal residences – one for each parent with legal or physical custody. Under Michigan law, a parent is allowed to move up to 100 miles away from their child’s legal residence without seeking the approval of the Court however that does not include a move across any state line. That 100 miles is measured in a straight line, or as some say, as the crow flies.
However, there are many factors to consider here. For example, even if the intended move is within the 100 mile restriction, but causes difficulty for the other parent to maintain the parenting schedule, the move may not be as simple as you would think. In this situation, the other parent has a legal right to request a change in the custody or parenting time arrangement that would accommodate the increased distance between the homes of the parents.
Also, if you move within the 100 mile restriction but the change of domicile means your child will have to change schools, if both parents don’t agree, an additional motion requesting the change is required if the parties share joint legal or physical custody. One exception would be if a party has Sole Legal and Sole Physical custody. Then they are not limited by the 100 mile rule. They may however, still face a motion in court if the move disrupts a parenting time schedule, or the schedule is no longer feasible due to the change of domicile.
Parenting time is often called visitation by Oakland County parents.
Most of us in the Oakland County office of The Kronzek Firm, recommend to our clients that we obtain a court order even when the parents do not have shared custody. Decades of experience have shown us that problems are avoided by getting a court order even when it is not legally mandated. The statute requires that you stay within the state of Michigan when you move. A co-parenting Michigan resident may not choose to move to Ohio or Indiana, even if the travel distance between the two legal residences would end up being less that 100 miles.
If one of the parents chose to move beyond the 100 mile threshold, they would have to seek the consent of the court, or of the other parent. In some cases, getting the other parent’s approval is a simpler process than petitioning the Court. In this case, if one parent is able to get the other parent’s consent, they would only be required to put the agreement in writing and then notify the Court about the change of residence.
Join us next time, when we will be talking about what a parent can do when their child’s other parent refuses to consent, and how the court determines if the move is in the best interests of the child. Until then, if you have questions about modifying your custody agreement, or would like help structuring a divorce settlement, please call our experienced Oakland County family law attorneys. We have been helping Michigan families for decades, and we can help you too. You can reach our Farmington Hills office at (248) 479-6200. Our office is conveniently located on Northwestern Highway near Inkster.