Moving to a New Home When Child Custody Is Shared in Illinois
Being free to move about the country is one of the rights and privileges enjoyed by all Americans, and being divorced does not necessarily remove this option from the table, even if child custody is shared. For relocations of a significant distance, Illinois law requires a legal process to be followed, ensuring that the rights of both parents are taken into account, and most importantly, the best interests of the child. Ignoring these requirements can lead to significant consequences, including modification of the custody arrangement in favor of the other parent, so working with an experienced family law attorney to ensure the applicable rules are followed is critical.
In one recent case, a drawn out custody fight that now straddles the court systems in Illinois and Massachusetts illustrates how dire the consequences can be for violating parental relocation laws. This case includes an allegation of unauthorized parental relocation as one of the issues both courts are being asked to sort out, and the Illinois court issued an arrest warrant for the father after he failed to attend six hearings related to the relocation. Fortunately, conflict does not have to escalate to this level, as long as parents meet their legal requirements when relocating.
What Is Considered Relocation?
Not every move will trigger the provisions regarding parental relocation, just those likely to interfere with the other parent’s ability to participate in the child’s life. Thus, when a parent in Illinois who holds the majority of the parenting time, or shares parenting time equally, wishes to move with the child, court approval is necessary, if one of the following is true:
- The move is 25 miles or more from the original home, if the residence was in Cook, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, Lake or Will counties.
- The move is 50 miles or more, if the original home was in a county not listed above.
- The move is outside of the state’s borders and is 25 miles or more from the original residence.
Getting Approval for the Move
If a planned relocation falls within the rules mentioned above, the parent will need court approval to legally relocate with the child. This approval is facilitated if the other parent consents to the move, and notice of an intent to relocate must be provided to the other parent no later than 60 days before the planned move. If the other parent consents, the Notice of Relocation is filed with the court, and the judge will issue the necessary changes to the parenting plan without further proceedings, as long as the relocation is determined to be in the child’s best interests.
If the other parent challenges the move or fails to sign the Notice of Relocation, the process becomes more complicated, and the parent seeking to relocate will need to formally petition for permission. Approval is not guaranteed, so if this outcome is a concern, the parent wishing to relocate should file a petition as soon as possible.
When courts are asked to decide this issue, the judge will evaluate whether the move is in the best interests of the child, using a number of factors, including:
- The reason for the relocation
- The reason for the objection
- The quality of the child’s relationship with each parent, particularly looking at whether a parent failed to exercise parenting time
- The likely impact of the relocation on the child
- The feasibility of exercising parental responsibilities
- Whether it is possible to create a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities if relocation occurs
Having an experienced family law attorney to present evidence and arguments in favor of a parent’s claim, in light of these factors, is key to obtaining the desired outcome.
Contact a Barrington Parental Relocation Attorney
Circumstances in life are constantly changing, and sometimes, those changes require a move. As a parent sharing child-raising responsibilities, you need to ensure that your rights and your child’s needs are fully protected. If a parental relocation is an issue for you, speak with talented Inverness family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson. We know the challenges long-distance relocation can cause, and we will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome. Contact our office today by calling 847.873.6741 for a free initial consultation.