Can I Relocate with My Child to Another State (Part I)?
A new job or a new relationship in another state for one ex-spouse can create a quandary when the divorced spouses have a child in common: should the parent presented with the opportunity to move take it, knowing that doing so can mean an alteration in the existing custody or visitation orders? Or should the parent forego the opportunity and allow existing orders to remain in place? If you are faced with this decision, you know it is not an easy decision to make. If you are the custodial parent, should you relocate to another state with your child? If so, under which circumstances can you relocate?
Always Check Your Existing Parenting Plan and the Court’s Prior Orders
Before deciding to relocate, you should consult your existing parenting plan and any prior orders the court has entered. If the parenting plan addresses parental relocation (most do not, but almost all cite the 100 mile rule [MCL 722.31]), you should follow the instructions presented in the plan. Likewise, if the court has previously informed you of what you need to do if you are seeking to move out of state, you should follow these orders. If you are unsure of the orders the court has previously entered, your Michigan child custody/family law lawyer can assist you.
No Prior Orders Have Been Entered – Does This Mean I Can Relocate?
If the court has not entered any previous orders, this does not necessarily mean you are free to relocate to another state. A parent without a prior child custody order can move without seeking the court’s approval. However, if you were divorced or previously dealt with the court concerning child custody, you must still petition the court, even where you don’t have a parenting time schedule (see MCR 3.211).
Generally speaking, the process of relocating begins by speaking with your former partner ahead of the proposed move and seeing if he or she agrees to the relocation. Depending on your relationship with him or her and his or her relationship with your child, this discussion might be fruitful or it might cause the relationship to deteriorate further. Nevertheless, it is a conversation you must have if you want to move out of state with your child.
If the other parent agrees to the relocation, this agreement must be reduced to writing and signed by both you and the other parent so that it can be filed with the court. The agreement should include not only to where you will be relocating but also which adjustments in the existing parenting time schedule are being made.
What if the Other Parent Does Not Agree?
If the other parent does not consent to your proposed move, you must bring the matter before the court for a hearing. The court will then determine after the hearing whether you are allowed to move out of state with your child.
Contact an Experienced Michigan Child Custody Attorney
Part II will discuss this hearing and which factors the court will consider in making its determination. Having an experienced Michigan child custody lawyer in your corner at this hearing can have a significant impact on your odds of success. Contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office at (616) 698-0000 for assistance with your relocation concerns and disputes.