If the parties have joint legal custody, a custodial parent must file a Motion for Change of Domicile if the custodial parent wants to move more than 100 miles from the child’s current residence and if the non-custodial parent does not consent.
When considering a Motion for change of Domicile, the Court must consider each of the following factors (MCL 722.31), with the child as the primary focus in the court’s deliberations:
(a) Whether the legal residence change has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent.
(b) The degree to which each parent has complied with, and utilized his or her time under, a court order governing parenting time with the child, and whether the parent’s plan to change the child’s legal residence is inspired by that parent’s desire to defeat or frustrate the parenting time schedule.
(c) The degree to which the court is satisfied that, if the court permits the legal residence change, it is possible to order a modification of the parenting time schedule and other arrangements governing the child’s schedule in a manner that can provide an adequate basis for preserving and fostering the parental relationship between the child and each parent; and whether each parent is likely to comply with the modification.
(d) The extent to which the parent opposing the legal residence change is motivated by a desire to secure a financial advantage with respect to a support obligation.
(e) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child. If a parent seeking to change the legal residence needs to seek a safe location from the threat of domestic violence, the parent may move to such a location with the child until the court makes a determination under this section.
Some cases have held that the Court must consider whether granting the motion for a change of domicile would result in a change of an established custodial environment. If so, the trial court must also address and analyze the best interest factors in MCL 722.23. If there is a proposed change to an established custodial environment, then the party must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the proposed change is in the minor child’s best interest.
The Statute requires that each order determining or modifying custody or parenting time of a child shall include a provision stating the parent’s agreement as to how a change in either of the child’s legal residences will be handled. If such a provision is included in the order and a child’s legal residence change is done in compliance with that provision, no Motion need be filed. If the parents do not agree on such a provision, the court shall include in the order the following provision: “A parent whose custody or parenting time of a child is governed by this order shall not change the legal residence of the child except in compliance with section 11 of the “Child Custody Act of 1970″, 1970 PA 91, MCL 722.31.”