If you plan to be your children's custodial parent after your divorce, you may be able to move them to another state, provided your ex-spouse agrees. If you and your ex-spouse cannot come to an agreement, you must obtain a judge's approval. When deciding whether to approve a parent's request to move out-of-state with their children, the judge will look to a variety of factors including whether your children's quality of life will improve.
Both Parents Agree
If your ex-spouse is not resistant to an out-of-state move, you may submit a consent order to your family court detailing you and your children's new address and whether the move will require changes in parenting time. Michigan family courts have "friends of the court" who work with parents regarding custody. A friend of the court can prepare your order if you do not have an attorney. If the judge believes the move is in your children's best interests, he will sign the consent order and it will become a court order.
If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree to an out-of-state move, you must file a motion in family court requesting a judge approve your move. The motion may include an explanation as to why you believe the judge should approve. For example, if you need to move out-of-state for a job or to attend college, your motion may detail these reasons. The judge may also consider the recommendation of a friend of the court and you may need to attend a hearing. After your hearing, the judge will make a decision based on certain factors.
Parental Relationship and Best Interests
If your ex-spouse does not consent to your out-of-state move and you've filed a motion requesting approval from the court, a judge will consider whether your children will maintain a healthy relationship with your ex-spouse once you relocate. In Michigan, judges also look to whether an out-of-state move is motivated by a desire to frustrate or disrupt a parenting schedule or relationship. Moreover, the judge will consider whether the move is in the best interests of your children.
The judge may consider additional factors, such as whether your ex-spouse's refusal is due to a desire to pay less child support. For example, your ex-spouse may oppose your move because he hopes to obtain a decrease in his support obligation. The judge will also consider whether you or your children are victims of domestic violence.