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Relocation after divorce: Child custody issues in Illinois

Custodial parents wishing to move with children from a previous marriage have to follow strict protocol.

Deciding to relocate with children is difficult, but those who have custody after a divorce face unique challenges. In order to make the move, custodial parents considering moving their children out of the state of Illinois need to follow proper procedures.

These procedures are governed by state law. State law is fluid and changes can occur at any time. This was recently highlighted by the passage of a new statute that directly impacts relocation procedures beginning in 2016.

More on relocation of children outside of Illinois

The following provides information for those both currently going through the relocation process and subject to current law as well as those who are considering the process in the future and will be subject to the new statute.

Under current law, any move 100 miles from the residence at the time of the last custody order or at the time of the entry of judgment, whether inside or outside of the state, requires either approval from the other parent or leave from the court. However, those moving forward with relocation after January 1, 2016, will be subject to new statute requirements. These changes include a reduction in the distance that triggers approval of the other parent or court involvement. Instead of 100 miles, the new law requires agreement from the other parent or leave of the court for moves that are 25 to 50 miles, depending on the county of residence.

Relocation determinations in Illinois

In most cases, state law requires a court order before a custodial parent can relocate with his or her children. When making a relocation determination, the trial court takes the best interest of the child or children into consideration. In doing so, it reviews a number of factors. Some examples include:

  • Location. The court will review the distance of the move along with the potential cost and time needed for the non-custodial parent to visit the child or children.
  • Motive. Both the reasons behind the decision of the parent proposing the move and the motive for the parent opposing the move will be examined.
  • Quality. The general quality of life for both the moving parent and children will also be taken into consideration.

Under current law, the moving parent is required to provide written notice to the other parent 30 days prior to the move. After January 1, 2016, the law changes to require 60 days’ notice. Generally, this notice must include the new residence address and proposed date of the move. The other parent has 21 days to object. If no objection is made and the court approves of the relocation, the custodial parent is free to move. If an objection is made, the moving parent can file a petition seeking leave to relocate the child with the court.

Importance of legal counsel

It is important to note that the burden of proof is on the moving parent. As a result, the moving parent must establish that the relocation is in the best interest of the child. This is a heavy burden that can be difficult to establish.

Although the burden is on the moving parent, the parent who opposes the move should take the relocation attempt seriously.

Whether looking to move or attempting to keep the children nearby, a relocation attorney can assist not only in addressing the relocation order but also in adjusting legal custody, parenting schedules and other issues if the relocation is approved.

Keywords: Child custody, Relocation, Motive, Legal Counsel