Custody battles are often the bitterest and most troubling parts of a divorce. And the sad fact is that they don’t always stop after the divorce has been finalized. Life continues, and if your ex has primary custody, you may someday find yourself faced with the possibility of seeing your child relocated hundreds of miles away from home.
New jobs. New romances. Family commitments. There are all kinds of reasons that people want to move, but divorced parents can’t just move wherever they want. Michigan law says that parents need to agree to any relocation that would take the child out of state or more than 100 miles from your home. And if you don’t agree to the move? You may have to challenge it.
Six things the courts consider in relocation cases
It’s hard enough to endure one custody battle, but the truth is that, in many ways, a relocation hearing functions like a new custody fight. Moves can change the realities of your parenting time and force a revision of your schedule. Similarly, relocations may force divorced parents to modify their custody agreements. The odds are rarely that your ex’s move will change either of these agreements in such a way that you’ll have more time with your child.
The result is that you might need to head back to court to resolve your differences. And once again, the court will look at everything to decide what’s best for your child. It will ask:
- Will the move improve your child’s quality of life?
- Have both parents honored the existing agreements?
- Have you taken full advantage of your time with your child?
- If the court permits the move, will you and your ex be able to work out a new parenting schedule?
- Are you trying to block the move to pay less financial support?
- Has either party been involved in domestic violence?
Notably, there are many different aspects to each of these questions. For example, when it looks at how the move might affect your child’s quality of life, the court might consider a wide range of evidence or testimony. How safe is the new neighborhood? How good is the school? How good are the nearby hospitals? Will there be family nearby? How will the move impact your child’s favorite activities? You want to make sure you’ve thought things through, asking all the right questions.
Protect your child and yourself
When you got divorced, you were awarded a specific parenting schedule and responsibilities. You don’t need to accept your ex’s desire to move if that move would strip you and your child of your time together.