As you may be aware, recent changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act have made it more complicated to move with your child if you currently share parental responsibilities. On one hand, this is a good thing. It should not necessarily be easy to up and move without taking into account how the move will impact the other parent’s access and relationship with your child. On the other hand, more complicated means that you may need help in making your proposed relocation a reality.
New Geographic Definitions
Assuming that you have equal parenting time or more, before you can relocate with your child, you will need to obtain the other parent’s permission. Not every move constitutes a relocation under the law, as you can certainly find a new home in the same general area without needing approval. A relocation, however, is defined as a move with your child of more than 25 miles from a home in the six counties that comprise the Chicago metro area to a new home either in or outside of Illinois. If your current home is in a county other than Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will Counties, a relocation is a move of more than 50 miles within the state or more than 25 miles outside of Illinois.
Child’s Best Interests
If your child’s other parent grants consent, you can relocate without a problem—though you will need to amend your parenting time schedule and parenting plan to accommodate the distance. If he or she does not, your only option to ask the court to override the refusal in the best interests of your child. In doing so, the court will consider a number of factors, including the financial opportunities available in each location, the quality of schools and activities, and how the move will impact the existing parent-child relationship.
Importance of Family
The court must also consider “the existence or absence at the existing location and at the proposed new location.” If the relocation is approved, will your child be surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? Or are you looking to create a new life for yourself in an area where you do not know anyone? While there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer, consider some examples. You may have moved to Chicago to be near your spouse’s family, but following a divorce, you may wish to move closer to your own family in another state. It would be hard to argue that your child would not have positive family experiences available at your new home, though other considerations would also play a role in the decision.
Conversely, most of your extended family may live in Northern Illinois, but a job opportunity has you thinking about moving to the West Coast. Presuming that your family has little or no presence there, you will need to demonstrate that other factors would overcome the lack of family influences or your request for relocation is not likely to be granted.
If you have questions about relocating with your child and would like to discuss options for making the process easier, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule a free consultation at either of our two convenient locations.