Legal Proceedings of Relocation Process
A change domicile occurs when one parent would like to move themselves and their child away from their current residing state and consequently away from the other joint legal custodian.
If a parent wishes to move away from their current residency, a judge will need to grant them permission before they do so. Section MCL 722.31 governs change in domicile. It states that a parent must not move more than 100 miles away from the child’s legal residence without consent from the other parent or without the courts permission. Change of domicile law only applies to joint-custody situations.
Before granting legal permission for a change of domicile, a judge may take several factors into consideration. He or she will first and foremost make the child’s wellbeing their primary focus. The court will consider whether or not a legal change in residency will improve or depreciate the child’s quality of life. They will also consider the same thing for the relocating parent. For example, if a parent has been out of work for quite a while and they have found employment in another location, the court may consider that a possible improvement for both party’s quality of life.
Jobs and schools tend to be the greatest reason for a change in domicile. Relationships, more specifically marriage, mark another large area of concern.
The court will also try to maintain a good relationship between the child and both parents. If the court sees the relocation as a plan by the governing parent to disrupt the court ordered parenting time schedule, permission to relocate will most likely not be granted. The court will attempt to maintain the parenting schedule as much as possible even if a change of domicile is granted. This means the court will take into consideration whether not both parents will be likely to comply with the new parenting schedule and guidelines.
Above everything else, the court will try to protect the child’s safety. A domestic violence charge by either of the parents, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child will affect the court’s decision-making process.
A change of domicile may completely change existing custodial arrangements and child support. If the parties have joint physical custody, the move will change that relationship into a primary secondary relationship which can create many problems. Because issues involving children and financial arrangements can be very complicated it is probably best for parents considering relocation to obtain an attorney to assist them through the legal process.
An attorney can assist a client in obtaining a change of domicile in many ways. Within the information listed above, there are large areas in which a savvy attorney can be of help to their client. Some of these ways are by developing a case involving certain factors such as school rankings, overtime, exercise of parenting time, domestic violence, support obligations, parenting time schedule and the capacity for improvement are only a few nuances that a good attorney can successfully advocate for.
Debolski, Debolski, & O’Connor have had over 40 collective years practicing family law and can assist you with you change of domicile case.