When can a parent relocate with their children after a divorce? What is the law with regard to child relocation per Illinois law? Here is a summary of the law regarding child relocation in Illinois.
Nuts and bolts of relocation.
Parents with the majority of parenting time must seek permission from their the other parent or obtain court permission if they want to relocate with their children. This requirement applies to moving more than 25 miles for parents residing in Cook, Dupage, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties (collar counties). For all other counties in the state, the rules apply if the move is more than 50 miles from the child’s current home. These different standards reflect traffic congestion in the Chicago metro area requiring more time to travel.
The parent seeking to move is required to notify the other parent of the intended relocation. The notice must be in writing and filed with the clerk of the court. The notice must give the other parent at least 60 days’ notice before the move unless circumstances don’t allow that much time.
The notice should include:
1.) The intended date of the relocation;
2.) The address of the new residence (if known);
3.) The length of time the relocation will last and whether the relocation is for an indefinite or permanent period.
It is important to note that this provision only applies to parents who have the majority of parenting time. A parent that does not have the majority of time can move without consent, notice or court permission. The parent can then apply to the court for modified or altered parenting time.
If the parent with the majority of time serves the notice, the other parent can agree to the relocation by signing the notice that will be filed with the clerk. If it is signed, no further action needs to be taken by the moving parent. If the nonmoving parent does not sign the notice and no agreement can be reached, the moving parent must file a petition with the court asking for permission to move.
Factors courts consider when the relocation is not agreed upon.
In deciding whether to allow the move, the court is to consider 11 factors which include:
1.) The circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation;
2.) The reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation;
3.) The history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child and specifically whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment;
4.) The educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
5.) The presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
6.) The anticipated impact of the relocation on the child;
7.) Whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocation occurs;
8.) The wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to relocation;
9.) Possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities appropriate to the parents’ resources and circumstances and the developmental level of the child;
10.) Minimization of the impairment to a parent-child relationship caused by a parent’s relocation;
11.) Any other relevant factor bearing on the child’s best interest.
A balancing test.
Child relocation cases are always emotionally difficult because the outcome will likely change everyone’s life, in particular, the life of the child. The court needs to balance the needs of the child to have a continuing relationship with both parents, with the professional or personal needs of moving parent. From my experience, the likelihood of a successful relocation depends upon the reason for the move balanced against the level of involvement of the non-moving parent. If a parent is less involved, courts generally are more inclined to approve the move. Where a parent is highly involved with the child, an extraordinary reason for the move will need to be proven. Also moves to distant locations require more of a showing than a move to a distance that is easily driveable.