Today's society is extremely mobile. The economy in Michigan, for example, is forcing some parents to relocate to states where suitable employment is available. In addition, divorced parents are increasingly likely to look at an online dating services for introductions to suitable new mates. Very often, a marriage to someone met on line results in relocation of a parent. What happens if the remarried parent wants to move with the children? Does it matter if that parent has sole legal custody? How about cases where the parents share joint legal and joint physical custody? What if they share joint legal custody, but the parent wanting to relocate has primary physical custody?
In 2000, Michigan enacted something called "The 100-Mile Rule." This rule says children have a legal residence with each parent. The 100-Mile Rule prevents a parent from moving a child's "legal residence" more than 100 miles from the other parent.
Michigan law has long required all judgments to contain a provision mandating court approval before children may be removed (relocated) from the State of Michigan. The 100-Mile Rule was later enacted to prohibit intrastate moves of more than 100 miles. The legislative purpose was to prevent parents from causing the same disruption of the parent-child relationship caused by an interstate move by moving a long distance in this huge state. [A parent moving from Detroit, Michigan to Copper Harbor, Michigan for example, puts 600 miles between the parents' residences. This is an 11 hour trip each way in good weather. ] Without the 100-Mile Rule, such a move was previously legal.
The 100-Mile Rule does not apply where a parent has sole legal custody and primary physical custody. The Court still needs to approve removal of the child; It just doesn't have to give the same kind of consideration to the move. There is no best interest hearing.
In Huttunen v Huttunen, Docket No. 275706, decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals on January 15, 2008, the father appealed a family court ruling approving the mother's move with the children from Michigan after she married a man who resided in Wisconsin. As you've heard me say before if you are a regular reader of this blog, the specific facts of each case are going to be determinative of the result. You can read Huttunen v Huttunen here.
For those reading this blog as a parent / layperson, I routinely explain to my clients that it is helpful to understand how the specific facts of your case will help a court determine the result. Knowledge is power. In addition, forming reasonable expectations about the result in your case may help you and your co-parent to reach an agreement without costly litigation.
I am convinced that litigation is harmful to most families, causes rifts that are usually never healed, and can create a permanent barrier to effective co-parenting. I illustrate this concept on the Home Page of my website: http://traversecityfamilylaw.com Watch the film at the top of the page. It illustrates that broken dreams and failed marriages do not have to destroy co-parenting and happy/healthy relationships for the children with both parents. Mediation can be successful in resolving problems without destroying the parents' ability to continue communication and collaboration to help their children build a solid foundation for a healthy future. Parents should be able to participate in high school and college graduations, weddings, rites of passage such as baptism, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs. Some families I know even participate in shared holidays!
To learn more about relocation and other child custody issues, including post-judgment modifications, parental abduction, etc., visit my website at http://www.traversecityfamilylaw.com/index.htm OR contact me.
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