Moving out of town with the children? Better check the fine print.

If you are a parent with minor children whose custody is governed by a court order, you better contact an attorney before you decide to pack up and move. Michigan law requires court approval if you plan to move more than 100 miles from the child’s legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action in which the court order was issued. This includes orders in paternity actions and in divorce cases.

Now, this doesn’t apply if the residence of the two parents was more than 100 miles apart at the time the action started or if the move causes the parents to live closer than before. Also, if the non-moving parent agrees to the move you do not need court approval. However, I would recommend that you get the new parenting time arrangement in writing so that one party doesn’t change his/her mind after you’ve made all your moving plans or file a complaint with the court claiming you violated the parenting time order.

If you have to go to court, the court must consider each of the following factors in determining whether you can move with the children:

a) Whether the move has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent;

b) How each parent has complied with the court order governing parenting time;

c) Whether the moving parent is moving because he/she wants to defeat or frustrate the parenting time schedule;

d) If the request to move is granted, if it is possible to modify the parenting time schedule in a manner to adequately preserve and foster the parental relationship between the child and each parent;

e) Whether each parent would likely comply with the modification;

f) Whether the opposition to the move is motivated by a desire to secure a financial advantage with respect to a support obligation;

g) Any domestic violence history, whether directed at or witnessed by the child.

Your judge will have to review the facts of each case individually and then has the discretion to deny or approve the move.

Oh, if you have sole legal custody (not just sole physical custody) of your minor children, none of this applies. Please disregard and have a safe trip. But no matter what type of custody situation or agreement between the parties, if you are moving out of Michigan (regardless of the number of miles away) you need court approval. Sorry, I don’t write the court rules.

Curtis & Curtis, P.C. is a full service law firm located in Jackson, Michigan providing superior legal services and advice to individuals, families and businesses throughout mid-Michigan since 1901.

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