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naperville divorce lawyerWhether due to a new job or wanting to be closer to friends or family members, divorced parents may want to move away for a number of reasons. For divorced parents, however, moving with kids may not be simple. They have to get permission from the court and the other parent to move out of state. If your child’s other parent wants to relocate and you disagree with the relocation, it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities. A skilled family law attorney can help you contest the relocation and assert your rights. 

Factors Courts Consider Before Letting a Parent Relocate 

Before a judge can approve a relocation with a child or Illinois, he or she has to first make sure that the move reflects the best interest of the child. Here are the different factors a judge considers before deciding to approve or deny a relocation request:

  • Why a parent wants to move

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Naperville IL family law lawyerFollowing your divorce, it is likely that you or your ex-spouse will plan to move to a new home at some point. This is a normal activity, and a relocation may be planned for multiple reasons, such as to begin a new job, to be closer to family or a new partner, or to live in a larger, more comfortable home. However, parents should be aware that a move may require them to make changes to their parenting plan, and in certain cases, they will need to get approval from the court to complete a parental relocation.

When Is Approval Required for Parental Relocation?

A move to a new home is only considered parental relocation if a parent who has the majority of parenting time or shares equal amounts of parenting time plans to move to a new home a certain distance away from the child’s current home. For those who live in counties around the Chicago area (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, Lake, or McHenry), a move of at least 25 miles will be considered a relocation. Relocation rules will also apply to a move of 50 miles or more from another Illinois county or a move of at least 25 miles to a location outside of Illinois.

At least 60 days before moving, or at the earliest practical date within 60 days, a parent must notify the other parent and the court where their divorce case was heard. If the other parent does not object to the relocation, and a judge agrees that the move would be in the child’s best interests, the relocation will be approved. If the other parent objects, a court hearing will be held, and the judge will decide whether to grant the move based on a consideration of several factors, including the reasons for the planned move, the reasons the other parent is objecting, the ways the move is expected to affect the child, and whether changes can be made to the parenting plan that will minimize the negative effects on parent-child relationships.

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Posted on in Relocation

Keys to Winning a Child Relocation CaseDeciding whether to allow a divorced parent to relocate with their child can be a complicated issue for a family court. Courts in Illinois are supposed to use the child’s best interest as the primary consideration, but there are often positives on both sides of the argument. Is providing the child a better living situation more important than being able to see both parents regularly? There is no perfect answer to this question because both are important to a child’s wellness and development. If you are trying to relocate with your child, the key is to understand how the court will make its decision.

Statutory Factors

As of 2016, Illinois has 11 factors that courts must consider when ruling on a contested child relocation case. One of the factors is broadly described as anything that affects the child’s best interest, meaning that almost anything related to your children could be a factor. However, the court will not weigh all of the factors equally. For instance, the court will not consider the child’s preference as strongly if the child is not mature enough to decide where they should live. The primary factors that courts consider include:

  • Why the one parent wants to relocate
  • Why the other parent contests the relocation
  • How the relocation would affect the child
  • Whether the other parent could still have reasonable parenting time with the child

Making Your Case

When requesting to relocate with your child, you must show how the positives for your child would outweigh any negatives. You should frame each argument around why the relocation would be better than your current situation and how you would minimize the negative impactive it may have on your child’s relationship with their other parent:

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Illinois Court Rejects Father's Relocation PetitionA co-parent who wishes to relocate with his or her children bears the burden of proving why the move is in the best interest of the children. There can be several reasons why children may benefit from relocating, such as:

  • Better education;
  • A more diverse community;
  • Proximity to family members;
  • A higher standard of living; and
  • Employment opportunities for the primary parent.

However, the court must also consider how the relocation would affect the other parent’s rights. Regularly visiting each parent is often of the greatest benefit to the children. A court may reject a relocation petition if it is unconvinced that the children will be in a clearly better living situation than they are currently.

Recent Example

In the case of In re Marriage of Fatkin, a divorced father asked to relocate his two children from Illinois to Virginia. The father, who had a greater share of the parenting time, had not found full-time employment where he was living and wished to move into his parent’s home in Virginia Beach, where he grew up and had a job waiting for him. He cited several ways that his children would benefit from the move:

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Legal Recourse When a Parent Flees with a ChildA divorced parent living in the Chicago area may not relocate with his or her children more than 25 miles from their current home unless:

  • The other parent agrees to the move; or 
  • A court approves the move.

The relocating parent must file a petition to relocate and prove to the court that it is in the children’s best interest to move with him or her. The court can block the children’s move and modify the division of parenting time if the parent decides to relocate anyways. Fearing that a court will reject their relocation requests, some parents flee with their children to another state or country. State, federal, and international laws can help you rescue your children if your co-parent has abducted them.

Parental Kidnapping

Illinois defines parental kidnapping as when one parent defies a court-approved parenting order by hiding or removing the children from the other parent. You can request an emergency custody order for your children if you believe your co-parent has fled with them or is a risk to do so. Federal law allows your state’s courts to maintain jurisdiction over your parenting case, even when your co-parent flees to another state.

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