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Can parents relocate with children after a custody order?

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2023 | Child Custody

When parents in Michigan go through a divorce or were never married, there is often a custody order in place governing the children and the parents. These orders are based on the circumstances at the time of the order though. Over the years, circumstances can certainly change. Changes occur in both the lives of the parents or the children and based on those changes, parents may want to change the current order.

One of the changes parents may experience is a change in jobs or needing to care for a family member who becomes very sick. When these types of changes occur, the parent may need to move to a new residence. If the move is not very far, it may not affect the order, but if people need to move to a new city or state, that will change most aspects of the children’s lives and the custody order.

In situations where the parents share joint legal custody of the children, it also means that they will need the other parent’s consent to move or they will need a court order allowing the move.

Factors used to determine whether to allow a change of residence

In making this decision, judges will need to analyze a number of factors to determine if the move is good for the children. The factors are:

  • Whether the relocation will improve both the children’s and parents’ quality of life
  • How the moving parent exercised their parenting time under the current order and whether the moving parent is simply trying to frustrate the other parent’s parenting time with the children
  • If the court can modify the current parenting time order in a way that would continue to provide adequate time with the non-moving parent to allow the parent and child to continue to have a meaningful relationship
  • Whether the moving parent is simply trying to gain an advantage with the child support obligation

Relocating a child’s residence will involve a court proceeding in many situations in Michigan. Parents can certainly reach agreements with each other to allow for the move, but major moves will involve major changes to both the children’s and parents’ lives. These are very fact-specific decisions, which are based on the circumstances and the motivation of the parents for the move. Experienced attorneys understand the factors used to make these decisions and may be able to guide one through the process.