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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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11 Factors Courts Consider When Ruling on Child RelocationIllinois law prohibits a divorced parent from relocating with a child without notifying the other parent and receiving court approval. There are no exceptions for cases in which the other parent has little parenting time with the child or is deemed unfit. Unless the other parent has lost his or her parental status, a relocation order must be obtained if a parent wishes to move a child:

  • More than 25 miles if living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will County;
  • More than 50 miles if living in any other county in the state; or
  • More than 25 miles if the new location is in another state.

Child relocation disrupts the allocation of parental responsibilities for the other parent. Regular parenting time may be impractical if the child lives too far away. However, the relocating parent and the child may benefit from the move. Illinois law lists 11 factors that a court should consider when deciding on a child relocation request:

  1. The Reason for the Move: The relocation should have some direct benefit for the parent or child. For instance, a parent may relocate because of a new career opportunity that will allow him or her to better support the child.
  2. The Reason for the Objection: If the parent who is not relocating wishes to block the move, he or she can explain how the move would disrupt his or her parental rights.
  3. Parental Fitness: The court will examine whether either parent has a history of not fulfilling his or her parental responsibilities.
  4. Educational Opportunities: The court may favor a move that puts a child in a better school district.
  5. Extended Family: It is often beneficial for a child to live near other relatives. The court will consider whether the move results in the child being closer or farther away from relatives.
  6. Impact of Relocation: A move may improve a child’s standard of living but may also be emotionally traumatic.
  7. New Parenting Agreement: The move would likely require changing the allocation of parental responsibilities. The court wants to see whether the parents can still create a reasonable agreement.
  8. Child’s Wishes: The court will only consider what the child wants if the child is mature enough to give a reasoned explanation.
  9. Appropriate Arrangement: The moving parent must have the necessary resources in order to support the child in the new location. A younger child may struggle with a more disruptive parenting arrangement that results from the move.
  10. Continued Relationship: The court wants to minimize any effect that the move would have on the relationship between the child and the objecting parent.
  11. Other Factors: Either parent can present other reasons that moving or not moving would be in the best interest of the child.

Relocation Orders

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