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Parental Relocation After Divorce

What To Know About Parental Relocation After Divorce in Illinois

Maybe you are looking for a fresh start, want to be reunited with other family members, or got offered your dream job; relocating might seem like the easiest and best option for you and your children. It is natural for a newly divorced parent to think about moving somewhere new. Before you start packing your bags, it is important for custodial parents or parents with equal, 50-50 visitation rights to review Illinois’ relocation laws. 

When Is a Move Considered Parental Relocation?

The first step when considering parental relocation is to distinguish whether you are simply moving or relocating. According to Illinois’ parental relocation laws (750 ILCS 5/609.2), a move is considered a relocation when a custodial or an equal visitation parent wants to:

  • Move their child more than 25 miles away from their current house, if they live in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will Counties only.
  • Move more than 50 miles from their child’s current house, if they live in a different Illinois county than the 6 counties listed above.
  • Move more than 25 miles from their current home to a new residence that is outside of the Illinois state border.

If your move falls under one of the above conditions, your relocation must be approved by the other parent or the court.  If your move does not classify as relocation, say because you’re moving from Madison County to St. Clair County and thus, you’re within your allowed 50 miles, relocation statutes don’t apply to you. However, your move could still count as a “substantial change of circumstances” that would allow your ex to petition the Court to change your parenting plan or even request that your children live with him/her due to you moving away.   Because of these laws, it may be in your best interest to have an experienced family lawyer review all relocation parameters with you, so you’re informed before you make the move. 

Custody and Parental Relocation Rules

After you find your new house, the next step is to notify your ex-spouse about your relocation whereabouts. Illinois requires that custodial parents notify their ex sixty days in advance of relocating, or even just changing their address. If your move is a “relocation” under the statute, your notice must be written, and it must inform your ex-spouse of the exact date you plan to move, your new address, and whether your relocation will be temporary or permanent. Your time duration for temporary relocations is also required.  This written notice, unlike with just a normal move, must also be filed with the Circuit Clerk, where your original Parenting Plan was filed. 

When your ex-spouse receives this notice, they can either agree or object. Although the easiest way to relocate is to get approval from your ex-spouse, we know this will not be the case for every divorced couple. If your spouse objects to your notice, you will have the burden of then filing a Petition to Relocate with the court, where a judge will review the case and consider if relocating is in the best interest of your child.  Since this process does take some time, it’s crucial to plan ahead if you think a relocation is in your future, especially if that relocation is time-sensitive due to a job opportunity.

Relocation in Favor of the Child’s Best Interest

Divorce is already hard enough on children, and relocating to a new house, school district, and environment can add even further to a child’s emotions and stress levels. Due to these factors, the judge’s focus during this case will be deciding whether relocating is in your child’s best interest.

During the hearing, in addition to the normal best-interest factors, the judge will consider factors that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The distance between both parents. 
  • The custodial parent’s reasoning for relocating.
  • The non-custodial parent’s motive for objecting.
  • The parents’ history of caretaking functions with the child, and/or whether the non-custodial parent was consistently exercising time previously awarded.
  • The child’s education
  • The proximity of other family members at the current residence and at the proposed new address.
  • The ability for the Court to fashion a realistic and reasonable parenting time schedule if relocation was allowed.
  • The child’s wishes. 

The judge will deny your relocation if these factors demonstrate that relocating is not in your child’s best interest, or if you have any ulterior motives to keep your child away from their other parent.   If relocation is allowed, something to keep in mind also is that the financial burden for transportation most often will weigh heavier, or sometimes even exclusively, on the parent who is moving away.

Legal Assistance During Your Parental Relocation

If you have any concerns regarding Illinois’ parental relocation laws, consider contacting a divorce lawyer to help you create a cohesive parenting plan for all parties involved. Strieker Law Firm has the experience and knowledge of how complex child custody and relocation cases can be, and the importance of having your child’s best interest in mind when advising you. 

Our experience with child custody and visitation rights makes us the perfect fit to help assist you with any parental relocating case. Every parent deserves the opportunity to see their children while being in a location that feels right for their family and themselves.

If you are currently going through any parental relocation problems with your ex-spouse,
contact Strieker Law Firm by phone at 618-391-1120

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