Child Custody and Moving Out of State

As a divorced or unmarried parent, it is certainly understandable that you will always be looking for an opportunity to improve your life. Finding a new and better-paying job, developing new relationships, or improving existing relationships with friends and family can all contribute to the health and well-being of both you and your child. There are times when such opportunities may even lead you to consider moving out of Illinois. While this may not always present a problem, if you are the custodial parent of your child, an out-of-state move requires you to petition the court for approval first.

Illinois law statutorily and in practice recognizes that the involved participation of both parents in a child’s life is generally in the child’s best interest. Obvious exceptions would include either parent presenting any type of danger to the child, which is fairly uncommon. As such, a custodial parent’s desire or decision to move out of state could create challenges for the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent. In situations in which the non-custodial parent agrees to the move and the parents can continue to foster their relationship with the child, such an agreement is generally approved by the court and the move is permitted.

Justifying an Out-of-State Move

Other cases, however, may see the non-custodial parent in opposition to the move, at which point, the court must often become involved. When filing a petition to move with a child out-of-state, the custodial parent must demonstrate:

  • The reasons for the move;
  • Specifically how the move will improve the child’s quality of life; and
  • How he or she will facilitate and foster the child’s relationship with the other parent in a workable and realistic way.

Opposing an Out-of-State Move

In objecting to the move, the non-custodial parent will generally present to the court:

  • How the move will negatively impact his or her ability to interact in a regular and meaningful manner with the child;
  • Concerns over the custodial parent’s reasons for the move, and whether ulterior motives, such as retribution, may exist; and
  • The hardship such a move may impose regarding the child through no fault of custodial parent’s.

No particular factor is given any more or less consideration under law. Instead, the court must weigh all of the factors as a whole to determine whether granting permission for the move is appropriate. When deemed to be in the best interest of the child, approval allows the custodial parent to move out of state with the child, but only in accordance with order. When deemed not to be in the child’s best interest, the parent may still move without the child, but modifications to the parents’ custody agreement may need to be made so that the child’s needs may be appropriately met.

If you are looking to move out of state with your child, we can help. If you are looking to keep your child from moving out of state with his or her custodial parent, we can also help. At Kezy & Associates, we know how difficult child custody issues can be and we are equipped to help you no matter what your situation is. Contact an experienced Joliet family law attorney today to schedule your free consultation. We look forward to working with you.