Can she refuse a divorce so she can move with our child?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

My wife wants to move out of state with our daughter to go live with a friend. She said she doesn’t want a divorce because we have military benefits.

Can I keep her from leaving the state? Should I file for a divorce?


Your question is about a parent’s right to leave the state with their children.

During the marriage, both parties have equal rights and access to the children born of the marriage. Both parties have the right to travel with the children. As long as there is no custody order in place, your wife can leave the state with your child.

You should consider filing for divorce. Filing for divorce will allow a custody order to be put in place. It is best to do this before your daughter is moved to Alabama. If your wife moves to Alabama and lives there long enough, she could file for divorce in that state, and the Alabama courts would have authority to decide custody of your child.

If you file for divorce, you can petition the court to have an ex parte order (an order without a formal hearing) entered that prohibits your wife from taking your daughter out of the state. After a custody order is entered in Michigan, each parent needs to get the court’s permission to move the child’s residence more than 100 miles, or out of the state.

Although I practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Michigan. Thank you for submitting your question.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  

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