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Can my ex-spouse move away with my children in Michigan?

Do you know your legal rights when it comes to your spouse moving away with your kids? Michigan's child custody policy outlines specific guidelines for those parents who are considering relocation. Although there are legitimate reasons for relocating to another city or state, parents who share custody typically have to work together to come to a resolution whereas their custody agreement is concerned if one person is thinking of moving.

What steps does a parent take when considering a move?

Parents must receive approval from a judge in order to relocate under most conditions. For example, parents must always seek legal approval if they want to move the child to another state, even if the family already lives close to the border between two states. The judge will ask for information including the family's proposed new address and any changes that may be necessary to modify an existing custody agreement.

What does the judge consider in these cases?

A judge will determine whether the move is in the best interest of the child by weighing the impact of the move -- will the child have access to more resources, for instance, or additional family support? The judge must be satisfied that modifications to an existing child custody order are reasonable and that both parents are likely to abide by the terms of the new order. Also, the judge evaluates whether a parent is requesting a move for nefarious reasons, such as attempting to avoid higher child support payments.

Does my ex-spouse have to obtain the court's approval to move in all cases?

No. If the other parent agrees to the move, the courts probably do not need to be involved. Additionally, if one parent is moving closer to the other, rather than farther away, legal approval is not necessary. Sole custody situations do not require legal approval. Finally, if the parents already lived 100 miles or farther from each other when the order was enacted, a judge does not have to get involved. Knowing about these rules can help you exercise your custody rights in a Michigan court.

Source: Michigan Supreme Court, "Michigan Custody Guideline," accessed Aug. 20, 2015

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