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Changing Domicile to Leave Michigan with Children

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Can you leave the State with your child? After a custody arrangement has been set up, it's common for things to change. Often, a parent will want to leave the State of Michigan and move. Reasons for leaving the state could include:

a. Better paying job offer in another State

b. To be with family who will help you

c. Remarried and spouse has been transferred for their employment

If you have joint legal custody and wish to leave the state and take the children with you, a petition asking the court to allow you to do so is necessary.

A statute outlines what you have to prove to change the children’s legal residence from this state to another state. MCL 722.31(4) provides the following factors with the children as the primary focus:

a. Whether the legal residence change has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent.

b. The degree to which each parent has complied with, and utilized his or her time under, a court order governing parenting time with the child, and whether the parent’s plan to change the child’s legal residence is inspired by that parent’s desire to defeat or frustrate the parenting time schedule.

c. The degree to which the court is satisfied that, if the court permits the legal residence change, it is possible to order a modification of the parenting time schedule and other arrangements governing the child’s schedule in a manner that can provide an adequate basis for preserving and fostering the parental relationship between the child and each parent; and whether each parent is likely to comply with the modification.

d. The extent to which the parent opposing the legal residence change is motivated by a desire to secure a financial advantage with respect to a support obligation.

e. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

The facts presented to establish the above factors must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

However, the parent asking the court for permission to change the residence of a child from Michigan to another state and have a standard of proof (a preponderance of the evidence) must be the only parent with an established custodial environment (also known as an "ECE").

If both parents have an ECE then we have another problem as well as another statute. If the move would cause the destruction of the other parent’s ECE, we now would have in addition to the above factors, proof that it is in the child’s best interest to destroy the other parent’s ECE. Now we have a new set of factors to prove known as the best interest factors which must be proved by clear and convincing evidence; a much higher standard of proof. See the newly published Court of Appeals case Moote vs. Moote, (COA#346527).

It's important to start litigation to leave the State as soon as possible since a case to Change Domicile can take many months to work its way through the Court system. If you are looking to move out of the State of Michigan with your child or if you want to prevent another parent from moving out of state with your child, call us today to discuss your case. 269-381-4471


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