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Can you move out of Michigan with the kids after the divorce?

Most couples with children who get divorced in Michigan will have to share custody after the divorce. Some couples secure a nearly even division of parenting time, while other couples have one parent with far more physical custody than the other.

The exact terms for sharing custody will depend on the settlement that the parents reach or the custody order entered by the Michigan family law judge presiding over their divorce litigation. Sometimes, parents want to take steps that fall outside of the terms of a custody order, like moving far away.

If you have just received a great job offer in Chicago or an opportunity to move home and live with your parents in South Bend, can you take the children with you?

Michigan restricts relocation during shared custody arrangement

The relocation of one parent will almost always have a negative impact on the custody rights of the other. The farther away one parent moves, the longer it will take for the children to travel between homes and the less frequently parents can exchange custody.

A relocation out of the state of Michigan or to the other peninsula might mean that weeknight visitation or even alternating weeks is no longer a reasonable custody solution for your family. Unfortunately, that means that your ex could prevent you from moving with the children. 

Relocations often require court approval

Typically, custody orders and parenting plans in Michigan will place a geographic limitation on relocation, often limiting parents to within a 100-mile distance of the original family home. If your move will fall outside of that limit, your only option will be to notify the courts and your ex in writing before the move.

If your ex disagrees with your relocation request, you will likely then need to go to court for a modification hearing. If the courts agree that the move is necessary and that it would be in the best interests of the children for them to stay with you, they may approve the relocation. Other times, you may have to rearrange your custody order or your expectation if you still intend to move.

Understanding the limitations on shared custody in Michigan can help you better plan for your future as a co-parent.