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As a general rule, if there is joint legal custody involved, neither party may move more than 100 miles from the location that they live at when the divorce proceedings are filed.  Neither party is able to move out of state as well.  The only way that either of these moves can be accomplished is with the agreement of both parties or a ruling by a Judge brought at some time after a divorce judgment is entered.

Previously, the only prohibition was moving out of state, however, this resulted in a situation where a party was not able to move to Toledo from Monroe, but could move to Marquette, from Monroe.  In recent years, this change has made more sense, by there being a two prong test.

If the parties cannot agree that one parent and the children can move more than 100 miles, this matter can be brought before the Court and the court has to find that the party seeking to move prevails on a majority of the following five factors:

  1. Whether the legal residence change has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent.
  2. The degree to which each parent has complied with and utilized his or her time, under a court order granting parenting time with the child and whether the parents plan to change the child’s legal residence is inspired by that parent’s desire to defeat or frustrate the parenting time schedule.
  3. 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 parenting time schedule and other arrangements governing the child’s schedule, in a manner that can provide 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Domestic violence regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.  If the party requesting the change prevails on the majority of these factors and the court determines that a change is agreeable, then the change can be made, if not, the move is not authorized and cannot take place.

Merrill Gordon is an Oakland County attorney with more than 35 years’ experience in divorce and family court proceedings along with all manners of civil actions. He is also a court-appointed mediator in Oakland and Wayne counties and has received an AV peer review rating, the highest available.

He is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Thomas Cooley Law School.  He was admitted to State Bar of Michigan and all Michigan State and Federal Courts in 1981, and the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1985. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, Oakland Country Bar Association, American Bar Association and the Mediation Tribunal Association.

For a free initial consultation, contact Merrill Gordon at (248) 626-3000 or via email at

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Merrill Gordon is accessible to clients at his Farmington Hills office and is also available via phone or email to discuss your case any time of day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He also provides a free initial consultation and flexible payment options.