Following a divorce, sometimes a parent who shares parenting time and responsibility with an ex-spouse may want to relocate for a job, a new relationship, or to be closer to extended family. Depending on the distance, if a parent wishes to relocate with the children to start a new life, the other parent will have to sign off or the decision will be left up to the courts.
If a parent intends to move with the kids, any change in residence of the child’s primary residence of more than 25 miles in Cook and collar counties or more than 50 miles in the rest of the state or more than 25 miles outside of Illinois, must provide notice to the other parent 60 days prior to relocation. Sometimes the other parent is supportive of the move and the parents can then work together to establish a parenting time schedule that will work. In these cases, the non-relocating parent only has to sign the notice and the relocating parent will file the signed notice with the court.
However, in many cases the other parent does not agree (or simply does not sign the notice) so the relocating parent must file a petition seeking a leave of court to relocate. A court must then determine whether a move is in the child’s best interests applying 11 specified statutory factors before modifying the parenting plan and granting relocation.
- What is the reason for the move? Is there a benefit for the parent and child such as a new career opportunity that enables a parent to better support the child?
- For what reason does the other parent object? Will it disrupt the parent child relationship?
- Have the parents fulfilled their parental responsibilities to date? Have they demonstrated a fitness for parenting up to now?
- Will the child enjoy better educational opportunities?
- Will the move put the child farther away from extended family or closer?
- Although the move may improve the child’s standard of living, are there any negative impacts to the child such as emotional trauma?
- Can the parents work together to forge a new parenting time agreement?
- What does the child want? If he or she is mature enough to weigh in, the court will consider his or her wishes
- Have arrangements been made to support the child in the new location – does the parent have resources such as shelter and a job lined up to make the transition smooth for the benefit of the child?
- Can the child feasibly continue a relationship with the non-relocating parent?
- Other factors that are unique to the family for the court to consider.
If you are considering a petition to relocate or do not agree with your ex-spouse’s plans to move your kids, keep in mind that different courts in Illinois have come up with different results after considering the 11 factors so the outcome of any case remains uncertain. It may be helpful to look at recent cases to glean some idea of what the courts look at when making deciding whether to grant a relocation request including IN RE PARENTAGE OF P.D.; IN THE MARRIAGE OF STIMSON; IN THE MARRIAGE OF KAVCHAK; or IN THE MARRIAGE OF FATKIN.
Because of the level of complexity involved in deciding what is in a child’s best interests in an Illinois child relocation and the varied results that come out of the courts, it is critically important to have experienced post divorce decree representation whether you are a parent who wishes to relocate with your children or you are a parent who is fighting a child relocation. Contact the Libertyville Illinois Law Offices of Ronald L Bell & Associates for immediate help today at 847-495-6000.