Moving On: A Primer on Illinois Law Regarding Relocation

How can I relocate with my child after a divorce as a custodial parent? 

The end of divorce proceedings is a relief for most parties; however, it is not necessarily the end of legal concerns. This is especially true when children are involved. Custody agreements offer specific terms that both the custodial and noncustodial parent must follow. Failure to adhere to them can result in legal consequences and potentially even a loss of parenting time. One of the areas where disagreements and complications most commonly arise is relocation.

What is relocation? 

Relocation refers to moving with children after a divorce, and it can be a point of contention for many parents. In Illinois, a relocation means:

  • If you live in the county of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will: a move more than 25 miles from the child’s current residence, as measured by an internet mapping service;
  • If you live in any other county: a move more than 50 miles from the child’s current primary residence, as measured by an internet mapping service; or
  • A change of residence from the child’s current primary residence to a residence outside the borders of this State that is more than 25 miles from the current primary residence, as measured by an internet mapping service. 

Get Permission

Perhaps the most important step to take when it comes to relocation is asking the noncustodial parent permission for the move. Do not make the mistake of assuming that because you are the custodial parent, you have the right to unilaterally determine where the children live. The next step you need to take largely depends upon what the noncustodial parent has to say about the move. If they agree, then you might very well be able to avoid legal action altogether. If they refuse, gaining approval from the court against their wishes will be necessary. 

Court Approval

It is sometimes possible to move even without the noncustodial parent’s consent; however, this is a more complex endeavor. The relocation request will only be granted if it is deemed to be in the child’s best interests, and the court will determine this by considering a few different factors. 

  • Quality of life
  • Acceptable visitation schedule
  • Distance of the move
  • Motivations of the parties involved

The move must enhance the child’s quality of life and be requested for a valid reason. This might mean any number of different things, from relocating to a safer neighborhood to securing a job with significantly better benefits. This motivation, along with the motivation behind the noncustodial parent’s objection, will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the court. Finally, implementing a reasonable and realistic visitation schedule plays an integral part in the court’s decision.

In order to give yourself and your child the best chance at being allowed to relocate, it is imperative to seek the help of experienced attorneys. Our team at Peskind Law Firm can help.