How Far Can I Move With My Child?
Sometimes, life happens. A new job, new relationship or death in the family may necessitate a move, but to relocate a family is almost never easy. This is true because Illinois law does set some restrictions on relocating children, especially during or after divorce. Very often, one parent’s interest in seeking new opportunities must be balanced with the other parent’s right to parenting time and their children’s interests in staying where they are comfortable.
Recent Changes to Relocation Laws
Before 2016, Illinois law held that a parent could uproot their children for any destination within the state, but if he or she chose to leave the state even by a very small distance, permission of either the other parent or a family court was required. With the revamping of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), a new approach was adopted.
Under the current law, any parent living in the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will can move a child to a new residence within Illinois, up to 25 miles from the original home, without permission of either the other parent or the court. If a parent resides with their child outside of those counties, the distance is increased to 50 miles, simply because the middle and southern counties in the state of Illinois are larger and less dense than the six surrounding Chicago. If a parent wants to move outside the State of Illinois, the distance of 25 miles remains the same before they must seek permission. It is also important to remember that within that distance, Illinois remains the home state of the child for purposes of disputes over parental responsibilities.
Requesting and Obtaining Permission
If your change in circumstances will require a move beyond the parameters set out in the law, you will have to obtain permission either from your ex-spouse, from the family court, or in rare cases, both. If your ex-spouse declines, you must seek approval from the court. A judge will consider the reason for your request, but he or she will also seek to balance its necessity with the best interests of your child or children.
Some factors a judge will weigh in determining whether or not to grant a relocation request include:
- How attached a child is to their home and community;
- The feasibility of parenting time for the spouse staying behind;
- The motivation for the move;
- The motivation for the other parent’s objections;
- The wishes of the child, if they are able to appropriately express them; and
- Many other factors involving the child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.
It is important to remember that just as you may not contest a move solely to frustrate the other parent he or she also cannot do that to you. If he or she is found to be resisting the relocation solely to obstruct your plans, they may be sanctioned by the court. Do not be afraid to raise the issue if you suspect it.
Call a Family Law Attorney
Regardless of the nature of your move or your relationship with your child’s other parent, relocations almost always go more smoothly when there are legal professionals involved. The experienced Kane County family law attorneys at MKFM Law understand the difficult balance that often needs to be struck in cases like these. We will do our best to find a solution that works for everyone involved. Contact us today at 630-665-7300 to discuss your situation.