March 1, 2022

Am I Allowed to Relocate Under the Terms of My Custody Order?

Once a child custody order is finalized post-separation, both parents are bound to the terms of the order. However, it is likely that your family will experience one or more unexpected life changes before your child turns 18. These changes may warrant a change in your custody arrangement.

For example, you may receive an exciting new job offer that would require you to relocate to a new city or even out-of-state. Depending on your child custody arrangement, you may need to get permission from the court before you move.

Moving a short distance

If you have sole custody of your child, you do not have to have approval from your child’s other parent or the court to move anywhere within the state of Michigan. Your only legal obligation is to provide the court with your new address.

If you share joint custody with your child’s other parent, you do not need approval from the court or your ex to relocate anywhere within 100 miles (as measured by road travel) of the place you lived at the time the court entered your original custody order. Again, you will have to provide the court and your ex with your new address.

There are two exceptions to the 100-mile rule:

  • Initial distance: If you and the other parent initially lived more than 100 miles apart when the proceedings started, you can move anywhere in Michigan without permission.
  • Domestic violence: You can move to a safe location without permission, but you will need to notify the court of your location (it can remain confidential) and the court will have to investigate to determine if you can stay in your new location.

However, keep in mind that your child’s other parent has the right to request a custody modification if your new living arrangements make it difficult to adhere to the terms of the original order.

Moving further away

Moving more than 100 miles away or moving out-of-state, whether you have sole or joint custody, will likely be more difficult, especially without the consent of your child’s other parent. Courts will consider several factors including:

  • Whether move is in child’s best interest
  • Domestic violence
  • Compliance with current parenting time order
  • Reasons for the move

If the court finds that the move would damage the child’s relationship with the other parent, it will be less likely to approve the move.

If you are concerned about how relocation will impact your custody arrangement, contact a family law attorney as soon as possible, while continuing to adhere to the terms of your current order.