Imagine this: You and your spouse get divorced. Initially, you agree to joint custody because that it what seems best for the children, however it’s soon obvious that your work schedule makes it impossible for the kids to stay with you during the week. So now you pretty much have two days of visitation instead. This is already hard, because you see your kids so much less than you’d like. But now your ex, who has primary custody of your children, has been offered a job on the other side of the state… and they’re going to accept it. So where does that leave you?
Custody is always a complex issue, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will work for everyone. Each and every family different. So what does that mean when it comes to child relocation law in Michigan? Can your spouse move across the state and take your kids with them? Will you suddenly have to drive hours each way on the weekends just to spent a couple of days with your children? Don’t get all stressed out just yet – there is a lot to figure out before you get mad or start pointing fingers. So let’s look at what’s involved here…
There are lots of families who move across state lines every year. Better job opportunities, being closer to sick or aging family members, and sometimes the simple desire to pursue a dream. However, for divorced families who have to deal with custody arrangements and visitation schedules, this move often looks very different. In addition, it comes with a unique set of challenges that need to be addressed ahead of time..
In Michigan, a child whose parents have a joint custody arrangement, would have two legal residences – one home for each parent with legal custody. Current Michigan law allows for the “100 mile” rule, which means that these two divorced parents may move up to 100 miles away from their current residences without having to get prior approval from the court. In other words, a parent in Lansing may move to certain parts of Detroit without getting the court’s approval, as long as the distance between the old and the new home doesn’t exceed 100 miles.
Additionally, child relocation law doesn’t require that the move be approved by the other parent.
However, one will need to keep in mind the fact that if the intended move, even within the 100 mile restriction, causes any difficulty for the other parent in maintaining the parenting schedule, they may attempt to modify custody. Another fact that parents need to keep in mind when they are moving within the 100 mile limit is the issue of schooling. Brandy Thompson, a partner at the Kronzek Firm, says that “while you can move w/in 100 miles without permission of the other parent, you cannot change a child’s school without permission if you share legal custody.” Which means that if you choose to move 96 miles away from your previous home and your ex doesn’t agree to a change of schools, you will have a LOT of driving in your near future. Or less custodial time.
Additionally, the law also requires that both parents remain within the boundaries of the state. A move that is less than 100 miles away but crosses state lines is not acceptable to the court. At least, not without prior permission. So while a move from Lansing to Jackson (which is a distance of roughly 40 miles) would not require the court’s permission, a move from New Buffalo, Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana would, even although the two cities are closer together ( approximately 11 miles)
So what would you do if the company you worked for offered you a great position in another state? Well, that depends on a number of factors. Curious about what that entails? Join us next time, when we will be talking about what a move across state lines looks like for parents sharing custody, and what the court will require in order to make it happen.
Until then, if you or a loved one have concerns about your custody arrangement, or want advice about how to modify a custody agreement, come and talk to us. The skilled family law attorneys at the Kronzek Firm have decades of combined experience helping Michigan families figure out the complexities of divorce and everything that goes with it. We are here 24/7 to discuss your situation with you. Call us at 517-886-1000. We are here to help.