Establishing A Custodial Environment When Related To A Change Of Domicile
Anytime a couple with children ends their marriage that couple will have to reach an agreement regarding child custody. They can either make that decision together or they can leave it up to the court. However, regardless of how they come to their decision, a court will have to approve their agreement. In most instances, both parents continue to live in the same town, or at least nearby, to where they lived while they were still married. However, in some cases, one spouse may decide to move a long distance away. In other situations, one or both spouses might decide to move a few years after the divorce is finalized.
When the custodial parent in this situation decides to move it can cause problems for the custody and parenting time agreement. There are many factors that can play a role in this kind of situation, including whether or not a custodial environment has been established. Sometimes when the custodial parent decides to move, for a new job for example, the non-custodial parent might contest the move. If the move is more than 100 miles, or out of state, then things can be very difficult to resolve.
In order to determine if a move will change the established custodial environment, the court looks at several factors, including how the parents actually split up their parenting time as well as their responsibilities. According to Michigan law, if during an appreciable period of time a child has sought guidance, comfort, discipline and the necessities of life from a parent, then a custodial environment has been established.
However, in cases that one parent has an established custodial environment with the child, even when both parents share legal custody, it is more likely that the court will allow the child to move with the custodial parent. That could mean that the parenting time arrangement that has been established might need to be altered. For example, if the non-custodial parent gets parenting time every other weekend, then under the new arrangement the child might spend more time in the summer or during school breaks with that parent in order to ensure that the parenting time will continue.
When both parents share physical custody the court must look at the proposed move in an entirely different context. If the child spends equal time with both parents, then the court will most likely determine that the child does indeed have an established custodial environment with both parents and that a move would change that environment. In that case the moving parent would have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a move would be in the child’s best interest in order to move with the child.
Relocating or changing a domicile and establishing a custody environment can be very complicated issues associated with divorce and child custody, which is why you should contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins in Michigan if you are facing this kind of situation. We can help you fight for your legal rights, no matter which side of the issue you find yourself on.