Determining Residency - Intent is Most Important Factor
Proper residency of a party is an essential element of a family law case in Michigan. One's 'residence' is the location that a party considers to be their place of living, coupled with an intent to remain in that place indefinitely. The Michigan Court of Appeals addressed this issue most recently on March 8, 2018, in the published opinion: Ramamoorthi v. Ramamoorthi (Link to entire opinion provided below).
The Court in Ramamoorthi , cited Berger v. Berger, 277 Mich App 700, 703; 747 NW2d 336 (2008), in which the Court previously held that "...the preeminent factor is a person's intent..." when conducting an analysis of determining residency or domicile.
In Ramamoorthi, one party had relocated to India from Michigan for a 'test period', implying that the relocation to India was not certain to be permanent. The prevailing party's testimony that her failure to return was due to the other party's control of their finances was found to be relevant in evaluating her physical location versus her intentions for residency.
What does this mean practically for potential and current family law clients? You don't have to be physically within the State of Michigan in order to litigate in family court, but you must have a demonstrable intent to have permanent residency within Michigan. Temporary relocation for work, health or for other circumstances such as the facts described in Ramamoorthi will not defeat a family law action on residency grounds.
If you have questions about how Michigan's statutes regarding residency may impact your potential case, please contact my office to arrange for a consultation.