Relocation: When Can a Custodial Parent Move With Their Children?

Posted on in Divorce

DuPage County parental relocation attorneysAfter a divorce, many people want a “fresh start,” and hope to find that by moving to another location. Sometimes, their move is prompted by a better job opportunity, a new significant other or family members, or better housing and school opportunities. Regardless of the reason, parents who share parenting time with their children cannot simply up and move. Rather, Illinois law requires that parents abide by certain rules and procedures for relocation with the children. 

Under Illinois law, the term “relocation” is defined as follows:

“(1) a change of residence from the child’s current primary residence located in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will to a new residence within this State that is more than 25 miles from the child’s current residence, as measured by an internet mapping service;

(2) a change of residence from the child’s current primary residence located in a county not listed in paragraph (1) to a new residence within this State that is more than 50 miles from the child’s current primary residence, as measured by an internet mapping service; or

(3) a change of residence from the child’s current primary residence to a residence outside of the borders of this State that is more than 25 miles from the current primary residence, as measured by an internet mapping service.” 750 ILCS 5/600(g).

A parent who intends to relocate must provide written notice to the other parent at least 60 days in advance of their planned relocation. The notice must at least include the intended date of their move and the location of the new residence. In some cases, the other parent is in agreement with the relocation. Typically, courts will not interfere with an agreement between parents regarding relocation. If the non-moving parent agrees, then an agreed order can be entered with the court relatively quickly permitting the relocation.

However, it is also important to be aware of what happens when the non-moving parent objects to the relocation. If the non-moving parent does not agree to the intended move, then the parent seeking to relocate must first request mediation from the other parent.  If that parent refuses to participate, or the mediation fails, they must file a formal petition with the court seeking permission to move. The court is responsible for reviewing the request and determining whether the move would be in the best interests of the children. When determining whether the relocation is in the best interests of the children, the court will consider several factors including the following:

(1) The circumstances and reasons for the relocation;

(2) The reasons the non-moving parent is objecting to the relocation;

(3) The history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the children. Specifically, whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under an allocation judgment;

(4) The educational opportunities for the children at the current location and at the intended place of relocation;

(5) The presence or absence of extended family members at the current location versus the intended place of relocation;

(6) The impact relocation may have on the child;

(7) Whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocation is granted;

(8) The wishes of the child (taking into account the child’s maturity level and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences);

(9) Any impairment to a parent-child relationship that may be caused by a parent’s relocation; and

(10) Any other factors the court finds relevant to the determination of whether relocation is in the children’s best interests.

There are many reasons why the non-moving parent may disagree with the relocation, but perhaps the most common is that the non-moving parent fears they will not be able to see their children as frequently. Distance between a parent and child limits that parent’s ability to participate in extra-curricular activities, schooling, and other important aspects of their day to day lives.  Accordingly, the court’s decision will likely heavily rely on whether or not a reasonable parenting schedule can be facilitated with the move.  To determine this, the court will consider the distance the move creates, the child’s age and whether they are able to fly on a plane or drive long distances, the parties’ finances and work schedules, and whether technology, such as Facetime or Zoom can supplement in person contact. 

As such, if you plan to relocate with your children or want to fight to keep your children where they are, it is important to be well prepared with the right evidence, documentation, and witnesses to present to the court. The information you present to the court could often mean the difference between a relocation request being granted or denied. McSwain, Nagle & Giese, P.C. is experienced in handling cases with parents seeking relocation and parent’s challenging an intended relocation. If you are in need of assistance, please contact our office for a free consultation.  

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