Out-of-State Moves in Illinois

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.

What Are the Law’s Changes?

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.

What Are the New Restrictions?

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:

  • less than 25 miles from the child’s current primary residence in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will Counties;750 ILCS 5/600(g)(1)
  • less than 50 miles from the child’s current primary residence in any other county;750 ILCS 5/600(g)(2)
  • to a residence in another state that is less than 25 miles from the child’s current primary residence in any county.  750 ILCS 5/600(g)(3)

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.

What is the Process Involved with Relocation?

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:

  • state the date when the parent intends to move
  • list the new address
  • state the length of time the parent will be living in the new location, if it is not a permanent move
  • be given to the other parent at least 60 days in advance of the move, unless the court orders otherwise or if such notice would be impracticable.

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.

What if We Cannot Agree?

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:

  • The circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation
  • The reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation
  • The history and qualify of each parent’s relationship with the child
  • 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
  • Possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities appropriate to the parents’ resources and circumstances and the developmental level of the child
  • Minimization of the impairment to a parent-child relationship
  • Any other relevant factors bearing on the child’s best interests.

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.

Contact Us for Help and a Free Consultation

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.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]

Woodridge Illinois Law Firm

3321 Hobson Road, Suite B
Woodridge, IL 60517
Phone: 630-305-0222

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