Determining Jurisdiction in Illinois Child Custody Cases

Posted on in Child Custody

Illinois child custody cases, Palatine Child Custody AttorneyQuestions regarding jurisdiction in Palatine child custody cases are common. Based on the specific circumstances of each case, the answers to these questions can differ from person to person. However, several general questions have similar answers.

What is jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction gives a Court the authority to decide a case. In Illinois, a Court has jurisdiction to decide a child custody case if Illinois is the child's home state. Therefore, a child must live in Illinois for a six-month period immediately preceding the filing of a petition.

My spouse moved out of state. Can Illinois still decide my child custody case?

Yes. Jurisdiction is based solely on a child’s home state, not where the parents live.

I moved to Illinois with my child last month. My spouse still lives in [State]. Can I file a child custody petition in Illinois?

Unless your spouse agrees to grant Illinois jurisdiction, you cannot file a child custody petition in Illinois under these circumstances. While a child’s home state has jurisdiction in custody matters, there are exceptions. Illinois only has jurisdiction if it was your child’s home state for the six months prior to the date the petition for child custody was filed. For example, you move to Illinois on March 1. Illinois will not have jurisdiction in any child custody matter until September 1.

Even if you put down permanent roots, such as purchase a house, gain employment, or enroll your child in school, Illinois will not have jurisdiction until the six months period is complete.

My spouse moved to [State] with our child last month and filed a child custody case. Can I still file a child custody case in Illinois?

Yes. Illinois remains a child’s home state for the six-month period following a move, provided that at least one parent still lives in Illinois. Unless there are compelling circumstances — your spouse is leaving an abusive situation or you plan to move out of Illinois in the very near future (thus cutting both your and your child’s ties to the state) — the Court where your spouse filed the child custody case will most likely relinquish jurisdiction.

My child and I have lived in Illinois for a year, but the child custody order is from [State]. Can I file a petition to modify in Illinois?

Possibly. If the other parent consents to filing a post-judgment modification in Illinois, or if the other parent no longer lives in [State], then Illinois would have jurisdiction as the child’s home, and [State] no longer has any significant ties to the child.

If, however, the other parent will not consent and/or still lives in [State], you will have to prove to the [State] Court that this area is an inconvenient forum and should therefore relinquish jurisdiction to Illinois.

The factors Courts use to determine whether an area is an inconvenient forum for child custody purposes may vary slightly among states, but in general the Court will consider the following:

  • Any history of domestic violence;
  • The length of time a child has lived in Illinois;
  • The distance between the Courts;
  • Any agreement between parents regarding which state shall have jurisdiction, and;
  • The financial circumstances of each parent.

Palatine Child Custody Attorney

Questions regarding jurisdiction in child custody cases can be tricky. If you and your child have recently moved to Illinois, or if you have a child custody order issued by another state, please contact a dedicated Palatine child custody attorney who can assist you with your case. Attorney Nicholas W. Richardson has more than 10 years experience handling child custody jurisdictional issues and is ready help. Call today to schedule your free initial consultation and find out if Illinois is the right place to file your child custody case.


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