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100-mile rule applies to child's legal residence at the time of the commencment of divorce action, not subsequent residence

Holding that the trial court misinterpreted MCL 722.31(1) in addressing the defendant-father's move and thus, failed to evaluate it according to the factors set forth in the statute, the court vacated the trial court's order granting defendant's motion to modify the parties' parenting time schedule and exchange location, and remanded. The court concluded that the trial court "ignored the plain language of MCL 722.31(1)" by focusing on the number of miles defendant moved from his most recent address, rather than on the number of miles he moved from "the child's legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action . . . ." Pursuant to the statute's plain language, a child whose custody is governed by a court order (such as the divorce judgment here) "has a legal residence with each parent." Further, the statute provides that, "where custody is governed by a court order, a parent shall not change a legal residence of a child - except in conformance with MCL 722.31(2)-(4) - 'to a location that is more than 100 miles from the child's legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action in which the order is issued.'" The fact that "a parent may have subsequently relocated a child's legal residence after the issuance of the order governing custody does not change the residence that is the focus of the 100-mile rule." The children's "legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action in which the judgment of divorce was issued was located in Clinton Township." Because there was no dispute that the city where defendant now lived is more than 100 miles from Clinton Township, he was "required to seek court approval, or plaintiff's consent, before making the move." As plaintiff did not grant approval, the trial court should have evaluated his move using the factors in MCL 722.31(4). Further, "if the move requires a modification of parenting time that results in a change in the children's custodial environment," then the trial court must consider the statutory best interest factors to determine whether the moving party proved by clear and convincing evidence that the move and change in the ECE and parenting time is in the children's best interests. In deciding the matter on remand, the court instructed the trial court to consider the issue within the framework of the four-step approach set forth in Rains.

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