Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

What is the D'Onofrio test?

The D'Onofrio test is used by courts considering custody cases where a parent with sole custody is seeking to move him- or herself out of state with the child or children. This test is used when traditional visitation schedules, such as a biweekly weekend arrangement, are in place for the noncustodial parent. When courts consider these situations, they typically look at three questions.

First, courts will want to understand whether a move is something that will benefit the parent doing the relocating as well as the child or children they will be relocating. In the past, Michigan Courts have considered an increased earning potential to be a positive increase in quality of life for both child and parent, but situations are obviously considered individually.

Second, courts look at the impact a relocation will have on the visitation of the noncustodial parent. Courts obviously don't expect parents living in two different states to keep up a biweekly visitation agreement, and visitation schedules don't even have to add up to the previous time children spent with a noncustodial parent. Barring any mitigating factors, however, the court will want to see that a noncustodial parent's relationship with children is protected via some type of visitation plan.

Finally, courts will attempt to judge the motives of a parent seeking a relocation. If the only motive appears to be a retaliation or punishment toward the other parent -- or an attempt to keep one parent away from children -- then that information might sway the court against a decision for the noncustodial parent.

If you are planning to move out of state for a job opportunity and a noncustodial parent is objecting, working with an attorney to understand your rights can be an important step to working through the legal process in a positive way. Likewise, if you are fighting having your children taken out of state by a custodial parent, a lawyer might be able to help you bolster your case.

Source: FindLaw, "What Are the Requirements for Out-of-State Parental Relocation in Michigan?," accessed April 14, 2016

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