Child Relocation Within Illinois

Any time divorced or separated parents move to a new town or new school district, the impact of the move on both the child and the other parent must be considered. When a parent is relocating, either within the state or outside of the state, he or she should be mindful of the ways in which it may affect the present parenting plan, the other parent’s parenting time schedule, and the child’s relationship with the other non-relocating parent.

Prior to 2016, Illinois law prohibited the court from restricting a parent’s ability to move a child within state lines. The determining factor as to whether a parent needed consent from the other parent or permission from the court was whether the move would be across state lines. However, as of January 1, 2016, that has all changed. The Illinois legislature revised the portion of the family law statute regarding relocation of a child, even within Illinois.

Now, the law determines a procedure if a parent is attempting a “relocation” of a child. The distance of the child’s move from the child’s current primary residence defines “Relocation.” If the child’s primary residence is located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County, then moving the child more than 25 miles away will be legally considered “relocation.” If the child’s primary residence is located in any other Illinois County not listed above, any move more than 50 miles away will be legally considered “relocation.” A move of less than 25 or 50 miles under the definitions above will not be considered relocation, and will not require consent from the other parent or permission from the court.

Even if the law does not consider a move a “relocation,” that does not necessarily mean the court won’t take any action as a result of the move. For example, the parent who is not moving may seek to modify parenting time schedule. The parenting time schedule may be modified with regard to the frequency and duration, and also with regard to which parent is responsible for transporting the child to and from the other parent’s home.

On the other hand, if the proposed move falls within the “relocation” definitions above, a parent cannot relocate a child from his or her primary residence - even within state lines - unless the proper procedures are followed. The parent attempting to relocate the child must provide at least 60 days’ advance written notice to the other parent, and a copy of the notice will need to be filed with the court. The notice must include the date of the move, the location where the relocating parent will be living, and an estimated amount of time the relocation will last.

If the other parent consents in writing and that consent is filed with the court, the court will approve the relocation and modify the parties’ parenting plan accordingly without any other court action required, as long as it is in the child’s best interests.

If the other parent does not consent to the relocation, the parenting attempting the relocation must file a petition with the court seeking permission to relocate the child. The court must modify the parenting agreement of the parties in the child’s best interest, taking into consideration the following factors:

  • The circumstances and reasons why the parent wishes to relocate;
  • The reasons why the other parent may be objecting to the proposed relocation;
  • The history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child. In particular, the court will consider whether a parent has regularly exercised parenting time with the child;
  • Whether the child will have better educational opportunities at the proposed future location;
  • Whether the child will have more or less contact with extended family at the proposed future location;
  • Whether it is possible to reasonably allocate parenting responsibilities between the parents if the relocation occurs;
  • The wishes of the child with regard to the proposed relocation;
  • Possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities, considering the parents’ respective resources, and considering the child’s developmental level; and
  • The extent to which the proposed relocation would impair the child’s relationship with the other parent.

A relocation that adversely affects the non-relocating parent’s involvement in a child’s life, or affects his or her parenting time schedule, could be viewed negatively if parenting time becomes an issue. This is particularly true in cases where there are other issues of alleged parenting time abuse, or a high degree of conflict between the parties. In short, the court will examine the motives of a relocating parent seeking to relocate with a child.

Adequate preparation and framing the issue are essential in any child related matter. If you are a parent and you wish to relocate you’re your child within the state of Illinois, you should seek the advice of the experienced attorneys at Kollias & Giese, P.C. before attempting to make such a move. This is especially true if the move will be considered a “relocation” under the new law, or even if it simply have a negative impact upon the other parent’s parenting time schedule or will require a change in school districts for the child, you should contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Similarly, if you are concerned that the other parent is planning a move that might negatively affect your relationship with your child, you should contact us. We would welcome the opportunity to advise you of your rights, as well as develop a strategy for maintaining your relationship with your child.