Relocation and Change of Domicile from Michigan

Child relocation (also known as change of domicile or move away cases) is usually difficult, emotional and often hurtful if a non-custodial parent is left behind. Most non-custodial parents worry how relocation will affect their relationship own with their child. This can be especially true for a parent whose child is at risk of relocating very far away.

Michigan Change of Domicile laws are constantly being changed, reinterpreted, and updated. Because of this, it is vital that you hire experienced Change of Domicile attorneys so that you can try to maintain a healthy relationship with your children.

Mother and daughterMichigan’s parenting time statute begins with the presumption that it is best for kids to have a close and continuing relationship with both parents.

Therefore, our judges (and Friend of the Court offices) set parenting time schedules with a frequency and during that intends to foster that close relationship.  

While it’s true that modern technology has made it easier to maintain a relationship with children that have relocated away from the non-custodial parent, phone calls, Facetime and Skype are not the same as in person, quality parenting time. For that reason, the attorneys at The Kronzek Firm work to insure the continuation of the parent – child relationship.  

Move Away Cases Before 2001

It used to be fairly easy to change your child’s residence in Michigan; all that was required was for the parent with physical custody to fill out a form with the child’s new address. The form would be sent to the Friend of the Court. Even before 2001, it was still the case that court approval was needed to move outside of Michigan.

Change of Domicile After 2001

Now, post-2001, it is significantly more difficult to change the residence of your child. To look at things another way, Michigan courts place stronger emphasis on maintaining the original custody / visitation agreement made between the parents of a child.

CourthouseStronger protection of parenting time agreements in Michigan came about with the 2001 case, D’Onofrio v. D’Onofrio. This case led the creation of Michigan statute 722.31(4), regarding the relocation of a minor child.

There were four factors used by the original D’Onofrio court to determine whether to approve the request of a parent, to relocate a minor child. The D’Onofrio case was not even a Michigan case. It occurred in  the state of New Jersey.

After the courts in New Jersey ruled on a 4 factor evaluation for requests to relocate a child, Michigan ultimately adopted those same 4 facts. Soon after, Michigan added another fifth factor to the list. That last factor deals with domestic violence. So today, we still use the original 4 D’Onofrio factors here in Michigan, plus we have added a fifth factor for the judge to use. The factors are described below:

  1. Whether the relocation is in the best interest of both the child and the parent that is relocating. Will it improve the quality of life of both the parent and the child? (The emphasis of the judge will be on improving the life of the child, with less emphasis on the parent that wants to relocate.
  2. Whether each parent has complied with and utilized his/her parenting time with the child. Is the parent’s goal of relocation to frustrate the parenting time schedule?
  3. Whether or not each of the parents will still be able to preserve and foster a healthy relationship with the child, given the relocation. Will relocation allow for modifications of the parenting time schedule and, if it does, will both parents likely comply with the modifications?
  4. Whether the parent opposing the legal residence change is driven by financial advantage. Is this parent trying to secure a support obligation?
  5. The safety of the child: will relocating the child put them in a situation of domestic violence? Even if the child isn’t the victim of domestic violence, will they be in a situation where they might witness domestic violence?

Can I appeal a change of domicile decision?

MCL 722.31(4) allows you to apply for the change of domicile for your child and also allows you to appeal a change of domicile decision in some situations. Whether or not the court allows you to either change the residence of your child, or to appeal this change, will depend on the court’s analysis of the five factors.

AirplaneIn addition to those five factors, if the relocation of the child would change the established custodial environment, Michigan law also requires the judge to examine and rule on each of the twelve “best interest of the child factors.” MCL 722.23.

If the other parent has already moved away with your minor children, there are the parenting time factors that can help keep you closer to your children.

What can I do if my ex is trying to move away with my children within Michigan?

In Michigan we have what’s called the 100-mile rule. This rule states that a custodial parent cannot move more than 100 miles away from the other custodial parent without the consent of the remaining parent or an order from the court. The 100-mile rule is defined in MCL 722.31(1) and it creates a legal residence for the child in the homes of both parents. The 100 miles is measured “as the crow flies” rather than in road miles.

What should I do if the other parent wants to move away with my kids?

If you are trying to prevent the other parent from moving too far away with your children, you need to contact experienced change of domicile attorneys. Or, if you are the one trying to change the residence of your child, you will need expert legal help to get through the process. No matter what, when you are dealing with child custody and parenting time  issues, you need to make sure your rights are protected.

PassportIf you are considering relocation, or fear that your child’s other parent might be contemplating relocation, it is important that you do so within the confines of the law.

Our attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have decades of experience and can assist you in matters involving change of domicile, child custody, parenting time, and more! We have handled these matters in state court, in federal court and internationally.

Email or call us today at 1-517-866-1000!