MATHEWS: Do you need the court’s permission to move?

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, December 2, 2020

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Most divorce judgments (where children are involved), support orders and paternity orders include a paragraph requiring parents to obtain the court’s permission before they can move the parties’ child(ren) out of Michigan. This provision is typically titled “Domicile of Minor Child(ren)” as it deals with the child’s state of domicile. These orders also usually include a provision that parents need the court’s permission to move the child(ren) more than 100 miles from their residence at the time of the entry of the judgment or order. This provision is typically titled, “Residence of Minor Child(ren)” as it deals with the child’s residence within their state of domicile. Both provisions regarding a minor child’s state of domicile and legal residence are required by law and are important for parents to know so they know when to request the court’s permission to move.

The requirement that parents need the court’s permission to move a child more than 100 miles from their residence is commonly known as the “100-mile rule.”  The 100-mile rule applies to both parents even if the child spends more time with one parent.  However, it does not apply if: (1) sole legal custody is granted to one parent; (2) the other parent consents to the move; (3) at the time of the entry of the judgment or order the parties already lived move than 100 miles apart; or (4) the move would make the child’s two legal residences with each parent closer together. Even if you can move a child’s residence within Michigan without the court’s permission, you must still follow your parenting time order and may need to have it modified to accommodate parenting time due to moving.

If none of the four exceptions apply, a parent wishing to move a child more than 100 miles from their residence must file a motion with the court. At the motion hearing, the court will consider the following factors when determining whether to grant the request: (a) the impact on the quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent; (b) compliance with the current parenting time order by both parties: (c) whether the move is intended to impede parenting time of the other parent; (d) the ability to order a change in the parenting time schedule to preserve and continue the parental relationship between the child and each parent; (e) whether each parent is likely to comply with the modified parenting time schedule; (f) if the parent opposing the move is doing so to secure an advantage regarding child support; and (g) any domestic violence issues.

If a parent wants to move the child’s domicile out of Michigan — even just across the border to Indiana and less than 100 miles from their residence — the parent must get permission from the court to change the child’s state of domicile.  The court must rule on a change in a child’s domicile even if one parent has sole legal custody and even if the other parent agrees to the move. During a hearing on a request to change domicile, if the parties share legal custody the court will consider the same factors that it would consider on a motion to change residence; whether or not the child has an established custodial environment with both or one of the parents; and if the move would change the custodial environment whether or not the move is in the best interest of the child. The court may or may not grant the motion depending on its findings. If the parent requesting the move has sole legal custody but joint physical custody, the court may decide the motion without considering the factors it would consider on a motion to change residence but must still consider if there will be a change to the custodial environment. If requesting parent has sole legal and physical custody, the court must grant the motion.

If you need further information on changing a child’s legal residence or domicile, free legal resources can be found at or you can consult an attorney.

If you have questions about the FOC that you think would be helpful to address in future columns, please send them to the FOC email address:


Sarah Mathews is the deputy Friend of the Court Cass County Friend of the Court.