Whether the goal is to be closer to family, to pursue a new job opportunity, to cohabitate with a new partner, or to finally settle into the home of your dreams, there are many reasons to want to move out of state — particularly after a divorce. Unfortunately, relocating across state lines can become more complex when you share parental responsibilities and parenting time with an ex-spouse.
Curious about the ins and outs of relocating with children following an Illinois divorce? Here’s what parents need to know:
How Does Illinois Law Define “Relocation?”
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a relocation is defined as:
- A change of residence from the child’s current primary residence located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will counties to a new residence within the state of Illinois that is more than 25 miles from the child’s current residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service;
- A change of residence from the child’s current primary residence located in a county not listed above to a new residence within Illinois that is more than 50 miles from the child’s current primary residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service; or
- A change of residence from the child’s current primary residence to a residence outside the borders of Illinois that is more than 25 miles from the current primary residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service.
Can I Move Out-of-State With My Child After a Divorce in Illinois?
The short answer is that because an out-of-state move will more than likely affect the lives of both parents and children, such a relocation constitutes a substantial change in circumstances, and thus must get approval from the other parent or from the court.
A parent intending to relocate, as defined above, must provide written notice of their move to the other parent under the parenting plan or allocation judgment. A copy of this notice must also be filed with the clerk of the circuit court. This notice must be provided, in writing, at least 60 days before the relocation unless such notice is impracticable, in which case notice should be given at the earliest date possible. At a minimum, this notice should set forth:
- The intended date of the parent’s relocation
- The address of the parent’s new residence, if known
- The length of time the relocation will last, if it is not for an indefinite or permanent period
If the relocating parent does not comply with these notice requirements without good cause, the court may consider this failure to abide by the rules as a factor in determining whether the parent’s relocation is in good faith, and as a basis for awarding reasonable attorney’s fees and costs resulting from the parent’s failure to comply with these provisions.
Once the notice has been provided, the ball is in the other parent’s court. If the non-relocating parent signs the notice and the relocating parent files the notice with the court, relocation shall be allowed without any further court action. The court would then modify the parenting plan or allocation judgment to accommodate a parent’s relocation as agreed upon by the parents, as long as the agreed modification is in the child’s best interests. If, however, the non-relocating parent objects to the relocation, fails to sign the notice, or the parents cannot agree on modifications to the parenting plan or allocation judgment, then the parent seeking relocation must file a petition seeking permission to relocate.
In such cases, the court must modify the parenting plan or allocation judgment in accordance with the child’s best interests by considering a number of different factors, including:
- The circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation
- The reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation
- The history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child and, specifically, whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment
- The educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location
- The presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location
- The anticipated impact of the relocation on the child
- Whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocation occurs
- The wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to relocation
- Possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities appropriate to the parents’ resources and circumstances and the developmental level of the child
- Minimizing the impairment to a parent-child relationship caused by a parent’s relocation
- Any other relevant factors bearing on the child’s best interests.
Interested In Learning More About Divorce and Family Law in Chicago?
People’s circumstances and lives are always changing. As a result, it may be necessary to address post-decree matters in the years after your divorce in order to modify or terminate certain provisions and agreements, or make sure that others are properly enforced.
A skilled and experienced family law attorney can help you navigate these pressing and important post-decree matters as needed, helping to provide you with tailored solutions that are specific to your unique circumstances.
That’s where The Law Offices of J. Jeltes, Ltd. come in. Our skilled attorneys can handle all of the pieces involved in a contested or uncontested divorce and post-decree matters, including in-state and out-of-state relocation with a child.
With more than 20 years of combined experience, our legal professionals are driven, attentive, and dedicated to achieving the best results possible. We truly understand that every situation is unique, and before hiring our firm our attorneys will provide you with a comprehensive one-on-one consultation to discuss your legal concerns and goals in depth.
If you have any more questions about out-of-state relocation or any other aspect of family law in Illinois, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experienced and compassionate advocates to continue the conversation.