Following a divorce one parent may want to relocate with the children to take a job opportunity in another state or move so that they can be closer to extended family. If you share parenting responsibility and parenting time with your ex-spouse, you may be in for an uphill legal battle unless he or she agrees to the relocation.
A parent is relocating under Illinois law if he or she seeks to move a child more than 25 miles from the child’s current primary residence in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will Counties or more than 50 miles in all other counties. If the parent intends to relocate out of state, they can go no farther than 25 miles without approval.
In Illinois, child removal (aka child relocation) is governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. The law states that before one parent can pull up stakes and move with a child, they must give the other parent at least a 60 days’ notice on file with the court. If your spouse agrees, he or she signs the notice and the parents draw up an agreement to modify the parenting plan for a judge’s approval. If the other parent does not agree, the issue will go to court.
Of course the court will consider, above all, the child’s best interests. The court will consider the likelihood that the proposed move will enhance the quality of life for the child. Questions the court might ask include whether the new job will provide needed resources to the family? What is the quality of the school the child will attend? Is there extended family at the new location? Where will the child physically live – are there plans in place to rent or purchase a home for the safety and security of the child?
The court will also consider the motives of the custodial parent seeking to relocate against the challenges the other parent raises. The court will most certainly look at the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child with an eye toward preserving any existing relationship the child has with his or her parents.
To this end, the court will flesh out whether a reasonable visitation (parenting time schedule) can be reached if the move is allowed so that the child can continue to enjoy the benefit of having two parents involved in his or her life. This may raise questions regarding the hardship on the child when traveling long distances especially if the child is young and expenses that one or both parents may incur to facilitate the parenting time agreement.
If you are attempting to relocate with your child and anticipate resistance from your ex-spouse, don’t give up. A skilled negotiator familiar with child relocation can help work through the issues in order to reach an agreement that works for all parties. Contact the Libertyville family law office of Schlesinger & Strauss LLC for help with an Illinois child relocation at 847-680-4970.