Sunday, February 22, 2009

Invoking 100-Mile Rule Could Cost a Parent Custody

A recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision changed physical custody of the parties' minor child from the Mother to the Father when Mother moved from Ludington to Traverse City. Since the move was less than 100-miles, Mother believed that she did not need to seek the permission of the court to "endorse" the move. She was wrong. At the time of the impending move, Father filed a motion to modify his parenting time due to Mother's proposed move. The family court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the parenting time and custody issues because the move would have unavoidably transformed one of the parents into a "weekend parent", and also appeared to affect the "established custodial environment" which the child had in both households.

The court of appeals affirmed the family court and Father now has custody. Mother could have elected to stay in Ludington, and remain the primary custodial parent of her daughter. Instead, she chose to move to TC and lost physical custody as a result. Thus, sometimes it pays to put more emphasis on the best interests of the children than on your own personal and professional goals. This Mother probably thought she would have no problem in taking her child away from the Father. Michigan law allows the custodial parent to move up to 100-miles without the family court judge's permission.

The case illustrates how legal issues of parenting time and custody blend together and how important the location of the respective parents can be if they cannot agree on these issues and are forced to litigate them in court.

The case can be found at the following link:

Same-Sex "Parenting Time" to be considered in Michigan in the Post-Adoption Context

In an unusual decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals, a lesbian couple who adopted three children in Illinois in 2003, and who are now ending their same-sex relationship, will have the opportunity to present evidence to a family court judge in support of their respective claims for custody and parenting time. The decision is unusual to the extent that the Court of Appeals did not consider the transcript of the arguments made before the lower court because the appellant, representing herself without legal counsel, did not bother to file the transcripts before the appellate court.

Michigan does not recognize same-sex marriages nor can a same-sex couple adopt the same child. This case presents a procedural twist where a family court judge will now have to consider the competing claims of each adoptive parent.

The following link addresses the case in a recent article published in the Chicago Tribune:,0,2545662.story