Moving is stressful under the best of circumstances, but if you are divorced and have children, the situation can quickly become very messy. If one parent wants to relocate a distance away, it can create major disruptions in the child’s life and the ability to spend time with the other parent. If the other parent objects, it can be one more issue that results in a divorce-war. And when divorcing parents are at war, the children suffer most.
Working out a visitation schedule in any divorce case involving children can be difficult, even when parents live close together. In January, 2016, as part of the revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act the law regarding moving and relocation changed in recognition of the problems that a major move can bring.
If you or your divorced partner has issues with relocation, help is available. The experienced and compassionate Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the stresses of divorce and recognize that the well-being of your children is paramount. We offer a free initial consultation and will work with you to examine your individual relocation situation and arrive at the best solution possible.
Before the revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, custody law in Illinois generally depended on whether parents were granted joint custody or sole custody.
Under the new law, parents have “parental responsibility,” determining who makes the major decisions in areas such as health, education, religion, and extra-curricular activities, and parents are also allocated “parenting time.” The children may spend most of their time with one parent or they may split their time with both. Also, the new law provides that a parent who has not been granted significant decision-making activities will be entitled to a reasonable parenting time schedule with the child, which can be difficult if one parent moves a distance away. Considering these guidelines, the law has made changes specifically dealing with relocation.
Under the old law, the parent who had been granted primary custody of the child could not move outside the state, but could move anywhere within the state without getting permission. That meant a custodial parent living near the Illinois border could move hundreds of miles across the state, but was not allowed to make a close move if it crossed the border to another state.
The new law does not deal only with out-of-state moves. Instead, the new statute has specific distance limitations on how far a parent can move with a child, even within Illinois, without getting permission from the parent or a judge.
According to the new law, parents who do not have the majority of or equal parenting time may move wherever they want. Restrictions apply to parents who have the majority of or equal parenting time with their children. The law says: A parent who has been allocated a majority of parenting time or either parent who has been allocated equal parenting time may seek to relocate with a child. 750 ILCS 5/609.2(b)
Such parents have no problem moving if they want to move the children in the following situations:
The 25- or 50-mile limit is determined by the county you’re moving from, not the county you’re moving to, and this can sometimes present problems — for example, if moving from a rural area to a congested city.
Even if parents who are moving do not need permission, they should always keep the non-residential parent notified of where the children are residing. And if they are moving beyond the allowable distances, they must get permission to do so.
The new family law statute establishes a new process for when a parent wishes to relocate with the child beyond allowable distances. Majority or equal-time parents seeking to move with the child are required to send written notice to the other parent, stating that they intend to move. The notice must:
If the non-moving parents agree with the move, they sign the written notice which is filed with the court, and the move would be allowed. If the non-moving parent objects to the move, or does not sign the written notice, the moving parent must file a court petition asking for permission to relocate.
If the divorced parents do not agree about the relocation, the judge will determine whether the relocation would be in the children’s best interests. In making this determination, the court must consider the following factors:
In making a decision, judges must consider all of the circumstances and weigh all these factors to decide what is ultimately in the best interests of the children.
Since moving can be so disruptive and the issues are so complex and vital to a child’s well-being, it makes sense to seek legal counsel. The skilled Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. know the laws and the system and can guide you through the process of relocation and all types of child custody matters.
Delaying can only make the situation worse. For a free initial consultation with an experienced and compassionate DuPage County custody lawyer, contact us online or call 630-305-0222.