FAMILY LAW BLOG
Submitted by Courtney J. Marshall
What happens if you’re divorced and want or need to move out of state with your minor children?
This is a common question asked in family law cases, especially in our modern-day society and culture where technology has created easy access to jobs outside of our home state. The good news is there’s a pretty straight-forward answer. If the other parent won’t agree to allow you to move out of state with the children, you need permission from the court to do so.
Let’s assume the other parent won’t agree to the move, what happens then? The party wanting to relocate files a motion to change domicile with the court asking for the court to allow the parent to move with the children outside of Michigan. In most jurisdictions, the parties will appear for a hearing on the motion and the judge will likely set it over for a change of domicile evidentiary hearing. At the hearing, the parent asking to move will have to show:
1) How the proposed move will improve the quality of life for both the moving parent and the child, with a primary focus on the child.
2) That the move is not motivated by a desire on the part of the moving parent to defeat or frustrate parenting time with the other parent, and that the moving parent will comply with the new parenting time schedule.
3) That there is no financial advantage or disadvantage when it comes to child support driving the desire to move. The court will look to the motives of both parties when considering this factor.
4) That the child’s relationship with the other parent will not be harmed by the move and there is a realistic, practical and appropriate parenting time schedule to ensure that the child continues to exercise a reasonable amount of parenting time with the non-moving parent.
In addition to these factors, the court will also conduct a best interest analysis if the proposed move results in a change to the child’s established custodial environment, which is often the case where parties share custody and have equal or nearly equal parenting time. In this case, the burden of proof on the parent seeking to move is also higher, meaning that the parent asking to move has to show by clear and convincing evidence that the move is in the child’s best interest.