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When Can a Michigan Court Resolve an Interstate Child Custody Dispute? - Part II

As referenced in prior blogs posts, families are migrating in record amounts throughout the US - scouring every state in search of jobs. Unfortunately just like any other family, these families sometimes split - which often leads to emotionally charged interstate child custody disputes.

In an earlier blog post, it was discussed how a Michigan court would first obtain jurisdiction before they could make an interstate child custody determination. However, the prior blog dealt specifically with how a Michigan court would obtain jurisdiction over the child custody dispute in the first place - but the questions now become, does a Michigan court that issued a child custody order still have jurisdiction after the child moves to another state, or conversely, does a Michigan court have the ability to modify a child custody order issued by another state when the child moves to Michigan?

Michigan's Continuing Jurisdiction over Child Custody

Just as with initial child custody determinations, the ability of a Michigan court to make subsequent child custody decisions are governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Except in rare emergency situation, after a Michigan court makes an initial child custody determination the Act states they will continue to have exclusive, continuing jurisdiction until either of the following occurs:

  • The court determines that neither the child, nor the child and one parent, have a significant connection with Michigan and that substantial evidence is no longer available in Michigan concerning the child's care.
  • A Michigan court, or a court of another state, determines that neither the child, nor a parent of the child, presently resides in Michigan.

Thus, it is possible that after a child moves to another state, Michigan courts may no longer be able to make further child custody determinations.

Michigan Court's Ability to Modify Another State's Child Custody Order

As for a Michigan court's ability to modify another state's order, that is also governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Under the Act, a Michigan court can only modify another state's order if they can establish jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination - for example, if another state declines jurisdiction and Michigan has significant connections to the dispute or if Michigan is the home state of the child - and any of the following exists:

  • The court of the other state determines it no longer has exclusive jurisdiction.
  • The court of the other state determines that a Michigan court would be a more convenient forum.
  • A Michigan court, or a court of the other state, determines that neither the child, nor a parent of the child, presently resides in the other state.

As stated in earlier blogs, interstate child custody disputes can be extremely difficult to navigate given the complexity of the laws. As such, nothing in this blog should be interpreted as legal advice, but, an experienced interstate child custody attorney can always advise as to what is the best course of action in each situation.

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