Moving after a divorce is a common practice. Often it happens before the divorce is complete. There are almost no restrictions on where a divorced party can move so long as they meet their agreed upon obligations. The primary time relocation can be tricky is when children are involved.
Relocation Involving Child Custody
It is not uncommon for divorced parents to live near each other, but at the end of the day power or decision of relocating the children lies with the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent the children live with primarily. Under Illinois law, the custodial parent has the right to move children after a divorce so long as any stipulations, agreements, or restrictions agreed to in the custody agreement are honored and maintained. Furthermore, despite having the right to relocate, the noncustodial parent still should be notified in advance so they may have the opportunity to object if they so desire. Advanced notice is especially critical for parents looking to relocate out of state, because there are then additional steps that may take place if the noncustodial parent wants to stop the move.
If you are looking to relocate out of state (especially if the case involves a minor child), you may petition the court for an Order for Leave to Remove the Child. The purpose of this request is to ask the court to review the relocation and determine if it is in the child’s best interests. The burden is on the parent moving to show the relocation is in the child’s best interest. There also must be a very good reason for the move in the first place (for example, a new job). This is especially important in cases where the custodial parent plans to relocate out of the state. Just to be clear, as a noncustodial parent, simply having a joint custody agreement or other arrangement in place does not mean you can automatically block the move. Everything must be in the best interest of the child. The court will then issue an order determining if the relocation can move forward or not.
Factors Viewed by the Court
The courts look at multiple factors when trying to decide if a move is in the best interests of the child. This includes whether the move will have an impact on the child maintaining a healthy relationship with the noncustodial parent. The court will also look at the custodial parent’s motives for moving and if it is realistically possible to establish consistent visitation with the other parent at the new location. Courts actually are more inclined to rule against the parent wanting to move if the child and the noncustodial parent have a close relationship or have been enjoying consistent visits. As the custodial parent, who wishes to relocate, you need to present the court a clear, convincing, and well thought out plan and proposed visitation schedule that addresses all these concerns. An experienced divorce and family law attorney can help you do that.
Pre- and post-divorce decision-making is complicated when children are involved. You will need an experienced divorce lawyer who can represent your interests while moving the process along as quickly as possible. Please contact our skilled DuPage County divorce lawyers today to discuss your case.