When parents go through a divorce or breakup, or any other time a Michigan court decides a child custody case, it will not typically give sole custody or parenting time to a party who is not one of the child’s parents unless there is an adoption. Grandparents can have certain rights to see their grandchildren under Michigan law, which is known as grandparent visitation, but courts do not always award grandparent visitation. In order to understand whether grandparents who have full custody in Michigan can move away, it is essential to learn more about child custody in the state and how grandparents may have visitation or ultimately end up with full custodial responsibilities for a minor child.
Child Custody and Parenting Time for Parents in Michigan
When Michigan courts are hearing child custody cases and determining whether legal custody should be granted on a sole or joint basis, and when courts are determining what type of parenting time arrangement is in the child’s best interests, the courts will be making these determinations in relation to the legal parents of the child. In other words, a court in Michigan will not hear a child custody case and also consider whether grandparents or other relatives can be eligible for sole custody of a child when the parents are fit. Instead, if grandparents want to have sole custodial rights, or any type of custody rights, then they will need to go through a different process.
Processes for Grandparents to Have Child Custody Rights in Michigan
If a grandparent wants to have custody of a child in Michigan, the grandparent essentially has one of four possible options:
- Petition for grandparent visitation under Michigan law, which allows a court to grant visitation rights to a grandparent who can show that visitation is in the best interests of the grandchild;
- Seek legal guardianship of the child in a situation where the parent(s) have abandoned or neglected the child, although legal guardianship is typically granted on a temporary or emergency basis (in some situations, guardianships are long-term or permanent, and a guardian can have custody of a child); or
- Grandparent adoption, which may occur as a relative adoption under Michigan law in some circumstances.
Grandparent Visitation and Relocation
When a grandparent has grandparent visitation, Michigan law does not allow that grandparent to move away with the child. However, a grandparent can move away and may still be able to have grandparent visitation.
Grandparent Guardianship or Adoption and Relocation
When a grandparent has been appointed as a legal guardian, it is not usually possible for the grandparent to move away with the child unless the court approves the relocation, especially since legal guardianships are typically on a temporary or emergency basis until a hearing can determine long-term rights and responsibilities for the child. If a grandparent is appointed as a full guardian and the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the guardianship should be permanent and is in the best interests of the child, a grandparent may be appointed as a permanent guardian with custody rights. Yet to relocate to another state, the grandparent will need permission from the court.
If a grandparent adopts a child, the grandparent has full rights as a parent and will no longer need court permission for relocation.
Contact a Michigan Grandparent Rights Lawyer
If you have questions about grandparent rights or visitation, our Michigan grandparent rights attorney can help. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information.