Changing legal residence and the Michigan Child Custody Act.

Imagine getting divorced and learning you finally got that promotion.  However, the promotion requires you to change your legal residence to California?   Maybe the shoe is on the other foot.  What if you just got divorced only to learn your ex wants to move to California?


There is nothing illegal about changing legal residence.  In fact, the right to travel is a fundamental right protected under Article 4 of the United States Constitution.  However, changing the legal residence of your child is another problem.

In Michigan, every child custody order contains a provision that prohibits a parent from changing the legal residence of a child that is more than 100 miles from the child’s legal residence at the time of the commencement of the divorce or custody case.  This law is aptly called the “100 mile rule” and can be found in Michigan Compiled Laws section 723.31(1).  Another Michigan statute prohibits changing a child’s legal residence outside of the State of Michigan.  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).

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).

To help you navigate these factors, we have created a short (6 minute) video on navigating a change in legal residence hearing with key learning’s and strategies.

About Findling Law

Findling Law, PLC – 414 W. 5th St. Royal Oak, Michigan 48067

Phone:+1 (248) 399-3300
After hours emergency?+1 (707) 968-7347


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.

By:  Daniel Findling

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