Child custody and moving out of town

I have traveled to Michigan’s Upper-Peninsula many times. The fishing is great, Lake Superior is awesome, and the cities on the northern shore are interesting and fun.

Moving up there has never been an ambition of mine. Still, I have to admit, sometimes, especially after reading a Jim Harrison novel or short story, the northern woods beckon.

But Marquette is a long way away, as are other places where people live and work. So what happens when the person who wants to move from Holland to Marquette (or Chicago or Phoenix) shares custody of minor children with her ex-spouse who does not want his children relocated far away?

Unless there is some agreement between them, the Court will have to decide the question, which is referred as a Change of Domicile. The Court will go through a step-by-step analysis for all change of domicile motions, but the first set of questions that a court must consider are these:

  1. Does the change of legal residence have the capacity to improve the child’s quality of life as well as that of the relocating parent?

  2. Have the parents complied with, and utilized, parenting time opportunities provided in the Judgment of Divorce or Order for Parenting Time?

  3. Is the proposed relocation designed to frustrate the parenting time schedule?

  4. Can parenting time be modified to preserve and foster the parental relationship between the child and both parents?

  5. Is the non-moving parent’s opposition motivated by a desire to gain a financial advantage with respect to a support obligation?

  6. Has there been any domestic violence by one parent against the other?

As I say, consideration of these questions is the first step in the overall analysis that the Court goes through when considering whether or not to allow a change of domicile.  These questions are not the end of the analysis, but they are important.

In the meantime, I really encourage you to read “True North” by Jim Harrison. It’s the epic of the Upper Peninsula written by one of the keenest observers of nature and human nature in modern literature.

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