Illinois Child Custody FAQ: Do I Need My Former Spouse's Permission to Move
Americans are mobile these days. Data suggests Americans move four times more frequently than Europeans, and that younger generations are particularly prone to frequent moves. The reasons for relocation typically include job offers, housing affordability, lifestyle, and family.
Illinois is no exception — it is not uncommon for people to move within Illinois or out of state. Single Illinois residents need only consider what is in their best interests, but divorced parents in Illinois or separating parents need to consider their child, their former spouse or other parent, and Illinois' legal requirements for relocation before moving. In some cases, moving may require obtaining your former spouse's permission.
When You Don't Need the Other Parent's Permission
After an Illinois divorce and child parenting plan have been finalized, you may move with your child in the following situations without prior consent of the other parent or the court:
- Your child's current primary residence is in Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, or Lake County; McHenry County, or Will County, and you're moving 25 miles or less from that residence.
- Your child's current primary residence is in a different county from those listed above, and you're moving 50 miles or less from that residence.
- You're moving to another state but will remain within 25 miles or less from your child's current primary residence.
Even if not required, it is always good practice to keep the other parent informed of moves in advance to promote effective co-parenting and goodwill between you and your former spouse.
Process for Relocation When You Need Permission
For all relocations not listed above, you will need the permission of your former spouse and the Illinois court that has jurisdiction over your Illinois family law case before you can move with your child. In this case, you will need to follow the process set out in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. It is generally advisable to hire an Illinois custody attorney early to help you through the process and to avoid a court battle.
The first legal step is to file a Notice of Relocation with the court and give the your co-parent a copy of it. The notice has to include where and when you intend to move, your new address (if known), and how long the relocation will last or if it is permanent. You must usually do this at least 60-days before your planned relocation (something important to keep in mind if you are in job negotiations).
After the notice, if your former spouse agrees to the relocation by signing the notice, the court will enter an order allowing the relocation and adjusting the parenting plan as agreed to so long as the court views the changes as in the child's best interests. If your former spouse does not agree to the relocation, you must file a Petition for Relocation, asking the court for permission to relocate and change the parenting plan as needed.
The court will decide based on what is in the child's best interests. When making this evaluation, courts can consider any relevant factor, but the following are some of the key factors:
- Reason for the proposed relocation
- Reason your former spouse is objecting to the relocation
- Each parent's relationship with the child
- Comparative educational opportunities for the child
- Extended family support at each location
- Wishes of the child, if age-appropriate
Improve Your Likelihood of Success
The easiest way to relocate with a child after an Illinois divorce is to get your former spouse's consent. A good starting point is to discuss the proposed relocation of yourself and your child with your former spouse before you file the legal relocation notice. Few people like to be blindsided by a legal notice — talking to them ahead of time will start things off on the right foot.
Working with a proactive and experienced Illinois family law attorney from the outset can also help increase the likelihood of success. They will help ensure you follow all the correct legal processes, so you don't get into trouble with the court. Additionally, they can help develop a strategy for getting your former spouse on board — this could include informal negotiations, family law mediation, or the use of a parenting coordinator.
Birt Law's Modern Approach
At The Law Firm of Erin N. Birt, P.C., we take a modern approach to help you through Illinois family law issues like seeking to relocate with a child after divorce. We believe in a collaborative approach where we develop a strategy based specifically on your situation and goals that seeks to maintain an amicable family relationship even after divorce.
Our DuPage County Divorce Firm has experience in divorce cases with and without the use of mental health providers and can help determine what is best for your case and your children.
If you are looking for a modern DuPage County custody attorney that cares, contact us today here or at (630) 891-2478. For those that understandably want to minimize in-person contact due to safety concerns or time constraints, we can provide virtual legal services by using phone, text, and video conferencing when working with our law firm.