What Happens if a Custodial Parent Wants to Relocate?

Are you a divorced father who is contemplating moving to a new address? Do you have custodial rights or does your ex-spouse? And does it matter?

Michigan law says (MCL 722.31) that a parent who has custody subject to a court order may not move the legal residence of the minor child more than 100 miles or out of state. The custodial parent cannot change that legal residence unless the other parent consents or the custodial parent gets permission from the court.

A move to a distant city or across state lines understandably raises questions regarding shared custody and parenting time, visitation rights, and other matters. Both parties have legal rights in such a matter. You must retain the legal services of a professional attorney, whether you are a custodial parent or non-custodial parent.

This rule only applies if you share joint legal custody of the child based on a court order that gives you that right. If you DO NOT have joint legal custody, there may still be a strategy that you can use, but in general the other parent will be allowed to move away.

If the custodial parent is planning to move away, this is what is called a change of domicile, and you should contact a family law attorney to discuss your rights and your options.

Can a Parent with Custodial Rights Prevent a Non-Custodial Parent from Relocating?

Non-custodial parents may have the legal right to pursue opportunities that take them to new cities or out of state, but they also have an obligation to work out an agreement or get a court order before they do so. If they plan to move more than 100 miles from the current legal residence of the minor child, or out of state, they will need consent or a court order to do so. Legal residence will be based upon the last custody order from the court, and what the child’s residence was at that time.


If you’re planning to move some distance away, you should notify your ex-partner of your plans. Then use the time you have to work out new visitation arrangements if possible. If the custodial parent is telling you they are planning to move away, you can try to work out an agreement if you are willing to do so. If not, you have a right to a court hearing to determine if the custodial parent will be allowed to move more than 100 miles or out of state.

What if a Parent Objects to the Other Parent’s Plans to Relocate?

Divorced couples with children may not always agree on the other’s plans to relocate. They may object and, depending on the circumstances, that objection may be heard in a court of law.

The custodial parent wishing to relocate must establish that the prospective advantages of the move are likely to improve the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child. The courts will always attempt to do what they feel is in the best interests of the children.

The court will evaluate the integrity of the motives of the custodial parent, and look at whether the court thinks the move is intended to defeat or frustrate visitation by the noncustodial parent. The court will also look at whether the noncustodial parent will have meaningful parenting time with the minor child after they are allowed to move away.

If, however, the objecting ex-spouse can show that the move is in bad faith – that it is an act of vengeance, that it is to limit the ex’s ability to see their child, etc. – then the courts may find in favor of the objecting parent.

Should You Hire a Divorce Lawyer?

If you’re planning a move and are concerned that your ex may look to prevent you, speak with the American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM). While the law may be on your side, it’s good to know your rights and have a legal professional in your corner in case you run into trouble.

Don’t defend your case on your own. Hire legal counsel to help you make your case.

Call the American Divorce Association for Men for a Free Consultation Today!

If you have an opportunity to follow better employment, a new life opportunity, or move into a nicer home, you should do so. It’s understandable that you feel held back by your responsibilities and your concerns about the laws. That’s why it’s important to hire lawyers to help you with your case.

ADAM offers a free phone consultation to men looking to understand their rights better. In the case evaluation, we’ll attempt to explain the legal services we offer so that you can feel more confident in your decision to hire ADAM as your legal representation.

Call us today at (248) 356-2326.