One difficult situation facing divorced families occurs when one parent seeks to move herself and the child to a city hours away from the other parent. On one hand, such relocation can be painful for the left-behind parent and the child. On the other hand, a move to a new city can also behold virtues that enhance a family’s well-being, such as a fresh start in school, the promise of a new, more lucrative job or strengthened social support from family and friends. Illinois law acknowledges both perspectives on this issue and seeks to make a case-specific determination of when relocation should be authorized.
Out of State Removal of Child After Divorce
When a custodial parent seeks to permanently move and bring the children outside of Illinois and the other parent does not agree to the move, Illinois’s Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act requires the moving parent to file a petition with the court and demonstrate that the move is in the child’s best interests. The court looks to the following factors when trying to determine the child’s best interests:
- Whether the proposed move would enhance the child’s quality of life;
- Potential harm the move may cause to the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent;
- The parent’s motives in choosing to move or choosing to oppose the move; and
- Whether a reasonable and adequate visitation schedule can be reached after the move.
In order to help the court determine whether a move is in the child’s best interest, a parent may ask the judge to order a personalized, out-of-court evaluation of the child and her circumstances. It is interesting to note that Illinois law specifically prohibits courts to consider the existence of technology, such as webcams and e-mail, when considering whether relocation would harm the child’s relationship with a parent.
If the judge grants permission to relocate the child, the relocating parent will be required to provide the other parent with precise out-of-state contact information for the child, and parties must develop a new visitation schedule that takes into account the costs imposed by the move. Additionally, a judge may require the parent give reasonable security guaranteeing return of the children to Illinois (such as for visitation purposes). The removing parent may be asked to post a bond, or temporarily sign over an asset or bank account into an escrow account.
Child Relocation within Illinois
Even intrastate relocation can have significant consequences for parent-child relationships. For example, a Chicago-based parent could choose to move to southern Illinois, which is at least four-hour drive. Whether Illinois law requires a parent seeking in-state relocation to obtain court permission to move is decided on a case-by-case basis. One of the major factors Illinois family courts look at in these cases is each parent’s legal status as a custodial or noncustodial parent and the amount of involvement each parent has in the child’s life. Like with out of state moves, parents will often need to develop a visitation agreement that takes into account the financial and emotional costs imposed by the move.
Choosing to relocate you and your child after divorce or seeking to stop a former partner and your child from relocating can be a taxing and personal decision. Once you have reached a conclusion about what option is best for you and your family regarding relocation, the experienced team of lawyers at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. are here to help you to achieve your desired outcome. Contact our Oak Brook, Illinois law office online with a specific description of your problem or call us directly at (877) 889-4515 to get this discussion started instantly.