In Rains v. Rains, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff could appeal as of right a denial of a motion for change of domicile because such a motion 'affects the custody of a minor.'
Defendant challenged plaintiff's ability to appeal as of right the trial court's order denying plaintiff's motion for a change in domicile. Defendant argued that a change in domicile was not a final order affecting the custody of a minor. The Court of Appeals determined that, based on the legal definition of 'affect,' a change in domicile does affect the custody of a minor under MCR 7.202(6)(a)(iii).
The Court of Appeals then summarized the proper approach to deciding a motion for change of domicile under Michigan's 100-mile rule: (1) the party requesting the change must show by the preponderance that the change is warranted; (2) if so, then the court must decide whether a custodial environment exists; (3) if it does, the trial court must decide whether the proposed change would alter the custodial environment; and (4) if it would, then the court must determine whether the change in domicile would be in the child's best interests by clear and convincing evidence under MCL 722.23.
The Court of Appeals found that the trial court misapplied the test. But it concluded the trial court's record clearly demonstrated that the trial court would have denied the change in domicile even under the correct standard. Ultimately, the trial court's ruling on change of domicile was not against the great weight of evidence. The court also affirmed the trial court's change in parenting time.