Once your divorce is finalized, you may be looking for a fresh start. That could mean moving far away — perhaps even out of Michigan. Can you leave the state with your child?
If you have sole physical and legal custody, the answer is yes. If you have joint custody, the answer is complicated and depends on the specifics of your situation.
Legal and physical custody
Michigan law recognizes the right of both parents to physical and legal custody of their child.
The term “physical custody” refers to where the child lives. Typically, even if a child lives with one parent most of the time, the other parent has some rights to parenting time and visitation.
The term “legal custody” refers to a parent’s legal right to make decisions about their child’s education, upbringing and medical care.
It’s common for divorced parents to have some kind of joint custody arrangement for both physical and legal custody. This arrangement is detailed in a court order.
If you are subject to a child custody order, move far away, this will has implications for the other parent’s physical and legal custody rights. Even if the child lives with you most of the time, the other parent likely has rights to parenting time and decision-making. Even if you have sole legal custody, the other parent likely has some rights to parenting time.
Under Michigan law, parents typically need a court’s permission before they can move if one of two situations applies:
- They have joint legal custody and they plan to move more than 100 miles away from where the child lived when the child custody order began; or
- They have any kind of custody arrangement and they plan to move out of Michigan.
This requirement applies to both parents.
Moving with your child
If you have joint custody, and you wish to move out of state or more than 100 miles away with your child, first you can ask the other parent to consent to the move. If they agree, it’s a good idea to get that agreement in writing and submit it to the court.
If the other parent does not agree, the other parent has the right to ask for a hearing at which the court will decide whether to allow the move.