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The basics of child custody relocation in Michigan

If you are considering relocating with your child after a divorce in Michigan, you may be facing a longer legal proceeding than you thought. If you do not have the buy-in from your ex-spouse in connection with the long-distance move, you could find yourself spending a significant amount of time battling about child custody in court. Before you pursue a relocation with your child, educate yourself about the rules of the move in the state of Michigan. We have provided you with a short primer about the basic regulations governing this topic.

In most cases, parents are not allowed to change permanent residences from the state of Michigan without the approval of a judge. Further, most parents are not permitted to move more than 100 miles away from their current location in Michigan without similar approval. Parents can petition the court for approval by asking for an order from a judge to approve the move. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, the moving parent may be required to file a motion in family court outlining the justification for the move.

Court orders and motions are not always necessary, however. First, if the non-custodial parent agrees to the move within Michigan, the courts do not have to get involved. Further, if one parent enjoys sole custody, moving within the state is not problematic. If the parents were already living about 100 miles apart when the judge made the custody decision, a court order may also be avoided. Finally, if the move brings the child's two legal residences closer together, the move does not require a judge's approval.

Before you take any steps to move your child outside of the 100-mile radius -- or to another state -- you may need to seek the advice of a family attorney. Filing the appropriate paperwork for such a major life change can be difficult. This is especially true for those who have adversarial relationships with their ex. Make sure that your legal rights are protected in court by making a strong argument for your relocation using advice from an attorney.

Source: Friend of the Court Bureau/State Court Administrative Office, Michigan Supreme Court, "Michigan Custody Guideline" Sep. 24, 2014

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