Relocating with children post-divorce

Michigan, like many states, has laws that prohibit a parent from moving out of state, or restrict a parent from moving a specific distance, with a child if the non-relocating parent is involved in the child's life. These laws apply to parents who are divorced, or to non-married parents, as long as there is a custody order that grants custody and parenting time rights.

Michigan has two relocation laws that may apply when a divorced parent wants to move away with children. These laws dictate the distance a parent can move and whether or not he or she can move out of state.

Michigan's 100 mile rule

A parent who shares joint custody must have the other parent's consent or the court's permission to move 100 miles or more away from the other parent. The 100 mile distance is measured between each parent's residence at the time when the custody proceedings were commenced. The 100 miles is determined by mileage, not the direct distance or radius, between the two homes.

The following situations are exceptions to the 100 mile rule:

  • If the parent that wants to move has sole legal custody. If the parents do not share joint custody, then the parent with sole legal custody can move wherever he or she wants, as long as he or she does not move out of state.
  • If at the time the divorce or custody proceedings commenced a parent already lived 100 miles apart from the other parent, you do not need the court's permission to move farther away but you must remain in the state of Michigan.
  • If the parent who wants to move is a victim of domestic violence. A parent who is scared for his or her safety can move without court permission but must alert the court of his or her new location. The court will then determine whether or not the move is in the best interests of the children.

Moving out of state

To move out of state with your children you must have the other parent's consent or the court's permission. This is true even if you live close to the state line and are only moving a few miles away. If you have sole legal custody, you still must receive the court's permission; but your chances of being able to move outside of Michigan are greater than if you share joint custody.

Is the move in the best interests of the children?

If the other parent will not consent to a move in excess of 100 miles or to a move out of state, the court determines whether the move is in the best interests of the children. To make this determination the court considers the following factors:

  • Whether the move will improve the quality of life for the children and the relocating parent.
  • Whether the non-relocating parent has exercised his or her parenting time.
  • Whether the relocating is an attempt to minimize the non-relocating parent's parenting time.
  • Whether the court is able to modify the parenting schedule so that the non-relocating parent can maintain a relationship with the children.
  • Whether the non-relocating parent's motivation in opposing the move is to lower his or her child support obligation.
  • Whether the children have been a victim to, or witnessed, domestic violence.

Generally, if the move is going to improve the child's quality of life and will still allow the non-relocating parent to maintain a relationship with the child, the court may allow the parent to move. If the move is going to be too hard on the parent-child relationship with the non-relocating parent, the court may deny the request. Contact an experienced child custody attorney to learn more.