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How does Michigan law handle the issue of parental relocation with a child?

Understanding Parental Relocation Laws in Michigan

In Michigan, parental relocation with a child is governed by a specific legal framework designed to balance the interests of both parents while prioritizing the child's well-being. The issue of parental relocation becomes pertinent when one parent with custody or shared custody intends to move to a location that significantly impacts the geographic proximity between the child and the other parent. The law requires that the relocating parent follow certain procedures and meet specific criteria before proceeding with the move.

Legal Procedures for Parental Relocation

Under Michigan law, a parent wishing to relocate with their child must first seek the consent of the other parent or obtain a court order allowing the move. This process is outlined in the Michigan Compiled Laws Section 722.31, commonly known as the '100-mile rule.' This rule provides that a parent cannot relocate a child more than 100 miles from the child's current residence unless they obtain consent or a court order, even if the move remains within the state of Michigan.

If the non-relocating parent does not consent to the move, the relocating parent must file a motion with the court seeking permission to relocate. The court will then consider specific factors to determine whether the relocation is in the child's best interests.

Factors Considered by Michigan Courts

The Michigan courts will evaluate various factors when deciding on a relocation request, including:

It is important for relocating parents to present a strong case that details how the move will benefit their child, not just themselves. For instance, in Sims v. Verbrugge, an influential case from 2004, the Michigan Court of Appeals highlighted that relocating parents must demonstrate how their proposed move would result in 'a better quality of life sufficient enough to justify disrupting stable custodial environment.'

Historical Context and Judicial Precedence

The evolution of parental relocation laws in Michigan reflects changing societal values toward shared parenting responsibilities and recognition of both parents' rights. In earlier decades, it was more common for mothers to receive sole custody and retain broad discretion over relocation decisions. However, as fathers’ rights movements gained momentum and courts began emphasizing joint custody arrangements, laws like Michigan's '100-mile rule' were enacted to ensure that both parents maintain meaningful relationships with their children post-divorce or separation.

Legal precedents set by cases such as D’Onofrio v. D’Onofrio and Renaud v. Renaud have further shaped how courts handle these sensitive issues, stressing that decisions should always serve 'the best interests of the child'—the paramount standard in family law cases involving children.


In conclusion, Michigan law requires careful consideration of parental relocation requests. Parents contemplating such a move must be prepared to demonstrate how it will positively impact their child’s life while ensuring continued access for both parents. As family dynamics evolve and mobility becomes an increasingly common aspect of life, Michigan’s legal approach to parental relocation strives to adapt accordingly, ensuring children's needs remain at the forefront of such decisions.