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Relocating with Your Child


Published on May 4th, 2021

After parents divorce or separate or during a pending divorce or parentage case, the parenting time split and physical location of each parent are the determining factors of where a child will attend school.  However, if a parent is faced with a job change that would cause him or her to relocate, or if a parent simply wants to move out of state or a certain distance away, that could cause the parties to revisit the terms of their co-parenting agreement or current arrangement.

The first issue that arises is what address is determined to be the child’s “primary residence.”  While this will be outlined in an Allocation (formerly Custody) Judgment at the conclusion of a divorce or parentage case, there are often arguments during a pending case where the child spends time equally with each parent.

How State Statutes Affect Your Relocation

Parents who share physical custody of their children may need to get the other parent’s permission or even permission from the court to relocate. Some co-parenting agreements set out terms by which one parent may relocate, however if there are no provisions in your parenting plan for relocation, Illinois statutes will define if and when you need to get permission to move.

In Illinois, these statutes and rules depend on the county where the child’s primary residence is located. When a child’s primary residence is in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will Counties, for instance, your move could be permitted without the permission of a court or the other parent so long as it is within 25 miles. Outside of these “collar” counties, the restriction is 50 miles. And if the proposed move is outside of the state by more than 25 miles from the child’s primary residence it will also require the permission of the other parent.

Getting the Other Parent’s Permission

If you are seeking to relocate with your child to a location that requires the other parent’s permission or the judge granting your request, the easiest way to do so is to get the permission of the other parent. In this case, specific guidelines should be followed.

A written notice must be given to the other parent stating:

  • The date of the proposed move;
  • The address of the new residence; and
  • The proposed timeframe of the relocation.

This notice, which is filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, must be given at least 60 days before the anticipated move. The other parent has two options after receiving notice of the move:

  • They may consent to it by executing and filing the notice with the court, whereby the court can issue a new visitation order that accommodates that agreement; or
  • They may object to it, leaving the relocating parent to go to the court for permission.

Getting the Court’s Approval

When someone seeks the court’s permission in a relocation matter, the court’s sole consideration is the child’s best interests. If the court considers the move not in the child’s best interests, the move may not be allowed. If the other parent does not consent to the move, it is the relocating parent’s responsibility to convince the court that the proposed relocation is in the child’s best interest.  Courts will make their decisions on a case-by-case basis when presented with a relocation request, considering many factors including but not limited to:

  • The reason for the move;
  • The distance of the move;
  • If the move will offer a better quality of life for the child and parent;
  • The motive behind the other parent’s objection to the move;
  • How the move may impact the child;
  • If the move might diminish the child’s relationship with one parent;
  • The quality of each parent’s relationship with the child;
  • If a reasonable visitation schedule can be implemented;
  • The time and cost involved in visitation after the move;
  • What the educational opportunities for the child may be; and
  • If there is an absence or presence of extended family in the new location.

If you have a parenting agreement in place or have a pending divorce or parentage case and are considering relocating with your child (or if your co-parent is considering a relocation), you need the advice of a skilled Illinois divorce lawyer. Contact the experienced Illinois family law attorneys at Davis Friedman to understand your rights and obligations under the law.

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