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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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DuPage County family law attorneyDivorced parents will usually share custody of their children, and when doing so, they will follow the parenting plan that was included as part of their divorce decree or judgment. This document will address the allocation of parental responsibilities (commonly known as “legal custody”), and it will include schedules for parenting time (also referred to as “physical custody” or “visitation”). A parenting plan will provide a framework for how parents will work together to raise their children. Because parents’ and children’s lives may change in the years following a divorce or breakup, modifications to child custody arrangements may be needed. Parents should be sure to understand when these types of changes may be made and the steps they will need to take to do so.

Modifying a Parenting Plan Because of Changed Circumstances

Illinois law states that changes to the allocation of parental responsibilities cannot be made within the first two years following the issuance of a divorce decree or child custody order, although exceptions may be made if the court determines that a child would be at risk of physical or emotional harm in their present environment. Parenting time, on the other hand, can be modified at any time, either by an agreement between the parents or because of a “significant change in circumstances.” After the first two years, legal custody modifications may also be made based on changed circumstances.

Significant changes in circumstances may include any issues that affect either the parents or the children and require changes to how parents make decisions about the children or adjustments to the time the children spend in each parent’s care. For example, one parent may begin a new job that will require them to work during their scheduled parenting time, and they may ask that the schedule be changed to ensure that they can continue to spend the same amount of time with their children. Legal custody may be modified if children experience changes that affect the parents’ ability to make decisions. For instance, a child may experience a serious illness or health condition, and the parent who primarily provides care to the child may ask for the sole authority to make the necessary decisions about the medical care the child will receive.

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Solutions for Three Parenting Time ConflictsDivorcing parents would love to come up with a perfect parenting time arrangement – for their children’s sake if not their own. Unfortunately, plans are rarely perfect, and you may soon realize that your arrangement is not working out as you had hoped. You are allowed to modify your parenting plan, but only if one of the following is true:

  • It has been two years since the plan was last approved or modified.
  • There has been a significant change in circumstances for one of the parents or children.
  • Both parents agree to the modification.

Not every parenting time problem requires a modification to your plan. Here are three potential conflicts and ways that you can solve them:

  1. Your Children Are Struggling to Adjust: Splitting time between two homes is a major change for children that can cause them stress and make them uncomfortable. If you notice your child struggling with the change, talk to them about what is bothering them. There may be something missing from the new home that would make them more comfortable. A tweak in your parenting schedule could make the situation easier for them. Talk to your co-parent about your child’s problems and come up with a solution that works best for your child.
  2. Your Co-Parent Is Not Following the Schedule: Your parenting plan is a legal contract that you both must adhere to. Your co-parent is breaking that contract if they interfere with your parenting time by not dropping off your children when they are scheduled to. When you notice this problem, you should ask your co-parent why they are not sticking to the schedule. There may be a logistical issue that is delaying them, which you can work together on solving. If they do not have a reasonable explanation and the problem continues, you need to file a complaint in court in order to enforce your agreement.
  3. You Have Frequent Schedule Conflicts: When choosing your parenting time, it is important that your children are with you when you are available to spend time with them. Sometimes, unforeseen commitments will interfere with your parenting time. If your parenting time is consistently clashing with your work schedule, you may need to adjust one of them. Starting a new job is a significant change in circumstances that should allow you to immediately modify your parenting plan. If your children’s activities are conflicting with your parenting time, you need to work with your co-parent on a solution. Ask whether it is possible to become involved in your children's activities or if your co-parent is willing to adjust the schedule so that you are not losing as much parenting time.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

A parenting plan should be designed to serve the needs of your children and yourself. You need to change the plan if it is no longer doing that. A DuPage County divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can help you create and modify a parenting plan. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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