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 mobility of Americans is one the hallmarks and benefits of living in this country. Moving to a new place for a job, better schools or a different lifestyle are common reasons people give for uprooting their family to a new home and community. Moving with children always brings additional considerations because leaving friends and transitioning to a new school is difficult for many children.
If a parent decides to move following a divorce, this decision is even more complicated. Because of the importance of this relationship, divorced parents who share custody of a child are not free to independently decide to move away with a child. Consultation with the other parent, and at times a family Court judge are necessary to stay within the bounds of the law and the parenting plan. Taking a child to another jurisdiction without permission can lead to serious consequences, including criminal charges for kidnapping or visitation interference.
A mother from Russia faced this situation when she was arrested at O'Hare airport earlier last year for removing her child to Russia without authorization from her ex-husband or a Court. She was placed under house arrest, but recently obtained approval from an Illinois Court to leave the U.S. with her daughter....
In the past, a parent typically could relocate with his or her child anywhere within the state of Illinois. If the parent wanted to move outside of Illinois, he or she would have to obtain permission from the Court in order to do so. Changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that took effect on January 1, 2016, however, dramatically changed the rules for a parent who wants to relocate with his or her child where the parents are divorced or otherwise separated and draws a sharp distinction between the requirements for a parent moving with a child and relocating with a child.
Moving With Your Child
If the parent with which a child spends most of his or her time wants to move, he or she is generally able to do so without the permission of the Court. Under Illinois law, “moving” refers to a parent living in a new home that is no more than 25 miles away from the original home that is located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake or Will Counties. Moving also includes moving to a new home that is no more than 50 miles away from the parent's original home if it is located in a county other than those previously mentioned. Despite this ability to move without Court involvement, however, a parent still should provide the child's other parent with his or her new address and telephone number....