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What to know about child custody and relocation

When it comes to relocation within Michigan, court approval may not be necessary if the non-custodial parent agrees to the move, sole physical custody has already been granted to one parent and if the relocation residence is closer to the non-custodial parent than before the relocation.

However, the process can be more complex when it comes to a custodial parent relocating to another state. In Michigan, the custodial parent who needs to move to another state is required to get court approval before such a move can take place. A judge's approval is necessary even if the actual distance to the other state is less than 100 miles.

If both parents mutually agree to the custodial parent moving out of the state, then an order with the agreement, address of the new home and any necessary changes in parenting time can be put in for the judge's signature. The parties can draft such an order themselves.

If the non-custodial parent does not agree to the move a motion for relocation must be filed. Such a motion must state the reason for the move. Generally, the reasons of relocation are economic, such as a job opportunity, or being closer to family. In some cases, the judge may order a relocation evaluation to help make an informed decision.

When deciding to approve or not approve a motion for relocation, a judge will take into consideration whether the move is likely to improve the living status of the child. The judge will also consider the history of the parents in honoring court ordered parenting time and custody arrangements to ensure that the move is not driven by a desire of the custodial parent to deny the non-custodial parent time with the child. The judge will also consider the ability of the non-custodial parent to have a meaningful relationship with the child after the relocation.

Source: Michigan Supreme Court, "Michigan Custody Guideline booklet," Accessed Dec. 22, 2014

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