Divorced parents often try to stay in the same area in order to maximize both parents’ involvement in the lives of their children, but that is not always possible. One parent may have a career opportunity that requires relocation, or maybe they just want to move closer to their family. If the relocation distance is substantial, the other parent may object because it will affect parenting time with their children and add the burden of travel costs. These cases often must be argued in court.
Illinois law 750 ILCS 5/600(g) defines relocation in terms of the distance between the child’s current primary residence and the new address, as measured by an internet mapping service which provides a distance in miles driven.
If the child’s current primary residence is within the Chicago metro area of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties, a move of more than 25 miles is treated as a relocation.
If the child’s current primary residence is outside the Chicago metro area, a move of more than 50 miles is considered a relocation unless the child is being moved outside of Illinois, in which case a move of more than 25 miles is treated as a relocation.
Illinois law 750 ILCS 5/609.2 requires a relocating parent to give the co-parent 60 days’ written notice of the relocation. If the co-parent signs the notice, the relocation will be allowed. The parents must provide the court with a modified parenting plan, which will be approved as long as the court finds the new plan to be in the child’s best interests.
If the non-relocating parent objects to the relocation, or if the parents cannot agree on a modified parenting plan, the relocating parent must file a petition with the court seeking permission to relocate. The court will then decide whether to approve the relocation and, if so, how the parenting plan will be modified.
Illinois law requires consideration of 11 specific factors and the totality of the circumstances to determine whether relocation is in a child’s best interests. These factors include:
A 2018 appellate court decision offers some additional guidance for parents in a close contest over relocation:
While a long-distance move (75+ miles) has been shown to compromise the quality of a parent’s relationship with their child, that fact alone does not require the court to prohibit the relocation.
An improvement in the relocating parent’s quality of life can be considered by the court to the extent that it directly or indirectly benefits the child.
Expert witness testimony can play a major role in the court’s decision. In this case, each party hired a psychologist to testify regarding each parent’s relationship with the child and the likely impact of the relocation on the child.
If you wish to relocate with your child and your co-parent strongly objects, or vice versa, you may have to go to court and have a judge decide whether the relocation can proceed. An experienced Lombard family law attorney can help you prepare the best possible arguments for your position. Call Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices at 630-932-9100 for a no-cost initial consultation.
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