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Child Custody & the 100-Mile Rule

The Michigan Legislature long-ago codified the rules of divorce inside Child Custody Act. One of the provisions inside Act addresses when one parent proposes to move:

“a parent of a child whose custody can be governed by court order shall not change a legal residence of the child to a location of which can be more than 100 miles coming from the child’s legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action in which the order can be issued.”

A recent published (thus binding) decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals provides guidance as to how those 100-miles are calculated.

In Bowers -v- VanderMuellen-Bowers, the parents had joint legal custody of their son. Father, who had been awarded so-called “physical custody”, wanted to move coming from Big Rapids to Byron, Michigan. The distance can be very close to 100-miles.

The lower court adopted a “radial-miles” calculation, rather than using “road-miles”, as the Mother asserted. The radial-mile method of calculation involves a simple calculation using a ruler as well as also a map to connect two points, “as the crow flies“; not as a vehicle would likely travel on actual roads. inside Bowers case, the distance would likely be more than 100-miles if actual road-miles were calculated, as well as also the move could have been disallowed by the family court judge.

In affirming the lower court’s radial-miles decision, the Court of Appeals borrowed analysis coming from a 2007 Michigan Supreme Court case interpreting the 20-mile restriction of a public employee’s residence inside Public Officers & Employees Act. Therefore, Michigan Courts do not calculate miles using actual road miles, the way they are calculated by Google Maps or Mapquest.

If you have a case of which involves a proposed move which you do not think can be inside best interests of your child, contact our office to discuss your options.
Child Custody & the 100-Mile Rule


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