Established Custodial Environment and Change of Domicile
Recently our Court of Appeals heard and decided on a published case, whether in a change of domicile request the trial Court had to go through the best interest factors as required in MCL 722.23.
The case name is Moote vs. Moote #346527.
In this case the Plaintiff petitioned the Court for a change of domicile. She wanted the Court to allow her to move with the child from Michigan to the State of Alabama.
The Plaintiff’s reasoning to the Court was that she had family in Alabama who could help her with free child care, which would allow her to go to school and find work. Further, the move would increase the quality of life for the family.
MCL 722.31 the Plaintiff would have to show to the Court:
a. The move would improve the quality of life for the child and the Plaintiff.
b. That she was not doing it to hurt the father’s relationship with the child.
c. That the new parenting time would continue to preserve and foster the relationship of the child with the father.
d. That the Motion was not motivated by a desire to secure a financial advantage regarding support.
e. Evidence of domestic violence.
All of these factors, known as the D’Onofrio factors, were proven by the Plaintiff by a preponderance of the evidence.
The Defendant, father, wanted the trial court to go through the best interest factors as required by MCL 722.23.
The Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not have to go through the best interest factors if the move did not change, modify or alter the child’s established custodial environment. (ECE).
Since the trial court held that the Plaintiff had an ECE and the move would not change that there was no reason to go through the best interest factors.
The Defendant was found by the Court to have an alternate weekend parenting time and thus there was no ECE in the father and that the new parenting time gave him more parenting time than he had under the old order.
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