Coming Changes to Child Removal and Parental Relocation Laws

As part of a bill that will overhaul a large number of family law provisions in Illinois, there are changes coming in regard to a custodial parent’s ability to move with his or her child. Many around the state are viewing the legislation as significant family law reform, and have lauded its aim to address evolving social ideals. Having already passed the Illinois House and Senate, the measure was signed into law this week by Governor Bruce Rauner and will take effect on January 1, 2016.

The new law promises to have a large impact on family law matters in the state, as it addresses major concerns related to divorce, child custody proceeding, and other issues. It will also redefine parental relocation in the context of child custody agreements, updating the current law which only places limits on removing a child from Illinois.

Current Child Removal Laws

Presently, under Illinois law, a parent with primary physical custody of a child is permitted to move anywhere in the state without the approval of the other parent or the court. Only an out-of-state move requires permission from the other parent or the court. If the other parent contests the move, the court may allow the move if it is found to be in the child’s best interest.

Part of the consideration in such a case, however, is the viability of a continued relationship between the child and non-custodial parent. A relationship is much more likely to be strained by excessive distance than by a seemingly-arbitrary state border. Under the current law, it is entirely legal for a parent to move with a child more than 400 miles from Chicago to Marion, Illinois, without approval. Yet, it would be illegal without consent for that same parent to move approximately 30 miles to Gary, Indiana.

Upcoming Changes

Beginning in 2016, the new law eliminates the language regarding child removal, and replaces it with definitions of relocation. Similar to the previous law, relocation will require the permission of the other parent or the court, and considerations will remain essentially the same. However, the new definitions of relocation mean that, without court approval:

  • A parent living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will Counties may move with the child to a new residence within Illinois up to 25 miles away from the previous home;
  • A parent living outside of those counties may move with the child to a new residence within Illinois up to 50 miles away from the previous home; or
  • A parent living near the Illinois border may move with the child into a different state, but only up to 25 miles away from the previous home.

When an out-of-state move occurs in compliance with the new law, Illinois courts will retain jurisdiction over the custody case involving the child.

If you have questions about parental relocation or any other issues covered by the new law, contact an experienced Joliet family law attorney today. Our team of knowledgeable legal professionals is equipped to address your concerns and help you understand how the updated provisions may apply to your case. We look forward to serving you.