Parents who were never married and go on to separate without involving the court invariably run into custody issues at some point. Failure to legally establish parental rights can result in unforeseen problems in the future.
Take the example of unmarried parents who live separately in the same state, informally sharing custody of a child without a child custody or support order. What happens when one parent relocates to another state with the child? What if the other parent objects?
First it’s important to understand which court has jurisdiction when there is not an existing child custody order. If there is not an existing custody case in the original jurisdiction, then the state where the child resided most recently (previous to the move) will retain jurisdiction for 6 months after the relocation. However, after 6 months lapses, the new state of residence will more than likely obtain jurisdiction.
For the parent relocating, a change in jurisdiction to the new state means that he or she will not have to travel back to the previous state of residence for a custody determination, saving them time and money. That is, unless, they file for child support before the six months has lapsed, which will likely result in the previous state asserting jurisdiction, requiring the parent to travel back to sort out custody and support issues.
If the parent who remains behind does not file an action to determine custody and support in the original jurisdiction promptly (prior to or within 6 months of the child’s relocation to another state), they will have to work out parenting time, parental responsibility, child support, and any other pertinent issues in the state that has obtained jurisdiction, often bearing the burden of travel and costs to set things right.
Not having a custody order can be very disruptive to the parent child relationship. A parenting time schedule is crucial to ensure a child gets to spend time with both parents. It is equally important for both parents to have a say in what is best for their child, whether it is a decision to move to another state, what school they should attend, their religious upbringing or whether to undergo a medical procedure. With a child custody order, relocation by the other parent must be approved by the court with the blessing of the other parent so the parent child relationship is not interrupted in the first place.
It is important to protect your parental rights. When you have questions about your rights regarding Illinois parenting time (visitation) and parental responsibility (legal custody), contact the law offices of Ronald L Bell & Associates for help today at 847-495-6000.