How Out-Of-State Moves Impact Custody

How Out-Of-State Moves Impact Custody

What do you do about custody and visitation when one divorced parent wants to relocate to another state? If the move involves a large distance, it can create major disruptions in the child’s life and the ability to spend time with the other parent.

However, these issues can exist even if the move is within the state of Illinois – if the distances involved are large enough. Any move that disrupts an existing family schedule can lead to conflict and negatively affect the children involved.

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 are considering or involved in an out-of-state relocation, you should be aware of the laws and seek the help of an experienced attorney. The seasoned 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 for you and your children.

What Are The Law’s Changes?

The revised Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act changed the old “custody” and “visitation” terminology. Parents now have “parental responsibility,” which determines who makes the major decisions for the children. Parents are allocated “parenting time” according to a court-approved schedule that determines whether the children will spend most of their time with one parent or split their time with both. Since spending time with children and transporting them between households can be difficult if one parent moves a distance away, the law dealing with relocation has changed accordingly.

Previously, the parent with primary custody of the children was not allowed to move outside Illinois, but could move anywhere in the state without getting permission. Since Illinois is so large, a custodial parent could make an intrastate move hundreds of miles away, but was not allowed to make a move to another state nearby.

What Are The New Restrictions?

Instead of focusing on out-of-state moves, the new statute limits distances a child can be moved, even within Illinois, without first getting permission from the other parent or a judge.

The new law allows parents who do not have the majority of or equal parenting time to move wherever they want.  Parents who have the majority of or equal parenting time with their children may seek authorization to relocate.

Court approval is not necessary for moves that are:

  • 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.

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 Relocation Process

Majority or equal-time parents seeking to move with children are required to send written notice to the other parent that they intend to move. The notice must state:

  • the date of the intended move
  • the new address, and
  • the length of time the parent will be living in the new location, if it is not a permanent move.

Notice must be given at least 60 days before the move, unless the court orders otherwise or if such notice would be impracticable. 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.

The judge will then determine whether the relocation would be in the children’s best interests. Factors such as the circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation and reasons for objections will be considered, as well as the educational opportunities and family support for the child at the proposed new location. If the child is mature enough, the wishes of the child will also be considered, as will the possible impairment to a parent-child relationship.

In making a decision, judges must consider all circumstances and factors to decide whether a move is 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 for relocating parents 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, call or contact us online.

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 ]