Long Distance Custody Arrangements
Many times after a divorce in Michigan, a parent may move to another state. How do these long distance custody arrangements work in Michigan?
There are many reasons for divorce. There are just as many reasons for someone, once divorced, to move out of state. Often, a parent may get a new job and be forced to move. When married, this is easier, as everyone comes along. In a situation when you have children and you are divorced, it can become complicated.
Moving Out of State As a Non-Custodial Parent in Michigan
You may be the non-custodial parent in your child custody arrangement. This means that while you have parenting time, you are not the legal or physical custodian of your child. Your parenting time may be altered significantly if you decide to move out of Michigan. Michigan child custody cases are always based upon what the court deems is in “the best interest of the child.” It could very well be that a judge sees you having physical parenting time as in your child’s best interests, and will help craft an agreement that allows your child to visit you out of state.
Many times, this ends up where a child spends the school year with one parent, and the summers with another. Or, you may end up having your child during breaks in the school year, with a two or three week visit in the summer. There are many ways to arrange the schedule, assuming the judge sees it as best for your child.
There are times when a judge may see the travel as being an undue burden on your child, and will reject this type of arrangement. It helps to have a seasoned Michigan family law attorney assist you in working on your case, especially for these types of situations. The judge may also see some parts of the arrangement as good, but others as not, and this can also be litigated if necessary.
Often, these moves can be to a neighboring state where the hand-off for parenting time can be easier on everyone. If, for example, the custodial parent lives in Southgate and the non-custodial parent moves to Cleveland, then meeting in Toledo wouldn’t be seen as much of a burden as say if the non-custodial parent moved to California.
Moving Out of State as the Custodial Parent in Michigan
If you are the custodial parent, you may see a more favorable response from the court to your out-of-state move. The reason for the move will come into play. If you are moving for work or taking on a more promising career, the judge will look on this more favorably than if, say, you’re moving to Florida for the warmer weather.
Also, if you, as a custodial parent, have supportive family living in the state you are relocating to, that can also work in your favor. Wayne County courts have consistently ruled that time spent with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, is positive for a child. However, if the judge sees the move as a vindictive one, your agreement may be in jeopardy.
Virtual Parenting Time
More recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in the use of technology like Zoom or FaceTime. This has been seen as a way to spend quality time with your children, and may even be an alternative solution for moving out of Michigan and your long distance custody arrangement.
Again, this is up to the discretion of the court. As we have discussed before, the “best interests of the child” standard can be very vague and open to interpretation. It is always best to have a Michigan child custody attorney helping with your case.
One benefit to this newer development in Michigan child custody cases has been the lowering of transportation costs. Often, in long distance custody arrangements, parents will have to split the cost of transportation for the child. This obviously is fair, however, in times with record fuel prices and inflation, it can put more burden on both parents.
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