Recent Changes to Illinois Child Relocation Laws
Often after a bitter divorce and subsequent parenting battle, parents and children alike may be looking for a fresh start. Whether it’s for a new job, school, or to be with family, relocation after a divorce is common, but what happens when relocation will interfere with your parenting responsibilities and custodial arrangement?
Overview of Federal Child Relocation Laws
When discussing child custody and relocation, you may hear an attorney make reference to something called the “Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.” This is a series of federal laws, meaning they apply throughout the United States, which are designed to prevent interstate and international “parental kidnapping” of children and promote uniformity among the states when it comes to child relocation.
These laws govern a state court’s jurisdiction to modify previously entered child custody and/or visitation orders, and they require the state in which the child is presently located to enforce orders imposed by another state’s family court.
This Act, however, does not control or provide standards for the implementation of actual visitation and parental responsibility orders. Instead, the Act simply prevents one parent from moving out-of-state with a child and then taking advantage of different standards in a local state court or the preference many judges may have for their own laws and citizens. Accordingly, if a child custody or visitation order is entered in Illinois, it generally cannot be modified by another court, and Illinois will retain jurisdiction over any future disputes and modifications.
Previous Standards for Child Relocation in Illinois
Child relocation actions arise when one parent wishes to move with the child in such a manner that the other parent’s visitation rights would be disturbed. Prior to the changes to the Illinois family code in 2016, a parent wishing to “remove” the child had to be granted permission by the court, which would consider the best interest of the child, the motivations behind the move, whether the move would provide the parent with a better job opportunity, and whether the move would generally enhance the overall quality of the child’s life. Further, a parent with sole physical custody of a child generally did not need permission to move with the child if they remained in the state.
Updated Illinois Child Relocation Standards
Under the new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, “child removal” has been changed to “child relocation.” Child relocation occurs when the child moves within the State of Illinois but more than 25 or 50 miles from the previous residence, depending on the county the child resided in, or the child moves out-of-state and more than 25 miles away from her previous residence.
Now, a parent with the majority of parenting responsibilities may move with a child by filing a written notice, which must set forth the following:
- The intended date of the move;
- The new address; and
- The length of the relocation if it is not permanent.
If the non-moving parent signs the notice, there does not need to be a further court order and the parent and child can relocate. However, if the non-moving parent objects to the relocation, the moving parent must file a petition with the court to modify the parenting plan.
In this case, the court must determine whether the plan should be modified by considering the following factors in accordance with the best interest of the child standards:
- The circumstances and reasons surrounding the relocation;
- The history and characteristics of each parent;
- The parents’ relationship with the child, including the history of support;
- The child’s educational opportunities;
- The presence or absence of extended family at the new location;
- The impact of relocation on the child;
- Whether parental responsibilities can be allocated again;
- The impact the relocation might have on the parent-child relationship; and
- Any other relevant factors.
Are You Facing Relocation?
If you are considering relocating with your child out of Rockford, or if the other parent of your child is considering such a relocation, I can help if relocation is being contested. Please call me to learn how I can help, and to better understand your rights and options.