Can you move with kids now that you can work from anywhere?

Can you move with kids now that you can work from anywhere? If you have an ex and a Michigan custody or divorce order, things are not that simple.

2020 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way of life for all of us. While many things will (hopefully) return to normal and do so sooner than later, others will not. Many publications around the country from the Wall Street Journal to Time Magazine and others have discussed the idea of people deciding to “escape” the cost, expense and tightness of city living for greener pastures in light of this new world. The thought is for people in places like New York City, San Francisco, even Detroit, if your job or company has been and/or will remain remote workwise, why live in the more expensive, urban area with higher costs and more people without enjoying the benefits of living there? So can you move with your kids?

Say you work for an automotive company or other major employer in Greater Detroit. Maybe you will work from home for 6 months, a year, maybe indefinitely. Going to consider living Up North? Maybe go somewhere warm, and live in Florida, California or elsewhere with all of this going on. Not so fast if you co-parent a child with someone else.

In Michigan, several key legal provisions govern with respect to where you can live and move with your kids:

1. You CANNOT change the legal residence of minor children to a location that is more than 100 miles from your current residence unless your co-parent consents to the change in writing or the Court permits the residence change. See: Michigan Compiled Laws section 723.31(1). In case you wondered, in Bowers v. VanderMeulen-Bowers, 278 Mich App 287, 294 (2008), the Michigan Court of Appeals determined that the 100 mile rule is measured in radial miles (as the crow flies and not in road miles).

2. You CANNOT change the legal residence of minor children to a location outside of the State of Michigan unless your co-parent consents to the change in writing and the Court permits the residence change.

Before changing legal residence of a child, a court is required to consider specific factors set forth in Michigan Compiled Laws section 723.31(4).

(4) Before permitting a legal residence change otherwise restricted by subsection (1), the court shall consider each of the following factors, with the child as the primary focus in the court’s deliberations:  

(a) Whether the legal residence change has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent. 

(b) The degree to which each parent has complied with, and utilized his or her time under, a court order governing parenting time with the child, and whether the parent’s plan to change the child’s legal residence is inspired by that parent’s desire to defeat or frustrate the parenting time schedule. 

(c) The degree to which the court is satisfied that, if the court permits the legal residence change, it is possible to order a modification of the parenting time schedule and other arrangements governing the child’s schedule in a manner that can provide an adequate basis for preserving and fostering the parental relationship between the child and each parent; and whether each parent is likely to comply with the modification.  

(d) The extent to which the parent opposing the legal residence change is motivated by a desire to secure a financial advantage with respect to a support obligation.

 (e) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

MCL 722.31(4)(a)-(e)

Just like Michigan, all states and jurisdictions have comparable laws and regulations to protect the rights of minor children and parents from a surprising and unsanctioned move that will effect a parent and child’s rights. As family lawyers, we are not here to make your dreams or life plans come crashing down. On the contrary, we wish to ensure you make major life decisions with the information, support, and assistance you need when it comes to co-parenting your children.

Simply put, you can move with your kids with the right preparation and representation. Please reach out to us today at Findling Law if we can help you sort out issues like this or any other pressing family law matters. 

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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

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