In many cases, a move to a new location after a divorce can be an important step in starting a new life, especially if it comes with a major change of scenery or a promising career opportunity. However, parents who plan to move with their children after divorce may need to consider not only their children’s best interests, but also the impact of the move on their former spouse. Whether your relocation happens with the other parent’s consent or you need to seek approval from the court, you will also need to prepare to update your parenting plan to account for the change.
What Parenting Plan Modifications Will I Need to Make?
In an ideal scenario, a relocating parent can work with the other parent to modify the parenting plan in a way that protects both parents’ relationships with the children and allows the other parent to feel comfortable with the move. However, it is not always possible for parents to reach such an agreement. When the parents are in conflict, an Illinois court will need to decide on appropriate modifications that are in the children’s best interests. Some of the most important factors the court will consider include the opportunities for the children in the new location and the impact of the move on the children’s relationships with both of their parents.
Regardless of how the modifications come about, here are some ways that your parenting plan may need to change to accommodate for the relocation:
- Modifications to physical parenting time – After a relocation of a significant distance, it is often unrealistic to continue with the current parenting time schedule given the travel demands it would entail. While time with each parent may not be as regular or consistent, you can work to ensure that each parent has as much time as possible by allocating extended time during summer vacation and other school breaks for a parent who does not regularly see their children during the school year.
- Inclusion of virtual parenting time – When it is more difficult for parents and children to see each other in person, electronic or virtual parenting time can help keep the relationship strong. It is important that both parents have a clear understanding of when it is appropriate to communicate with their children during the other parent’s scheduled time.
- Provisions for the children’s travel – When children do travel between parents’ homes, it is important to have a plan for how that travel will happen, whether by car, plane, or other means, and which parent will be responsible for managing and executing travel arrangements. In some cases, it may be best for a parent to plan time to visit the children in their new location, rather than the other way around.
- Adjustments to parental decision-making responsibilities – It is still possible for parents to share important responsibilities from a distance, but depending on the circumstances, it may be best to modify how decision-making authority is allocated. For example, if the children will primarily live with one parent during the school year or an extracurricular activity season, it may be reasonable to grant that parent primary decision-making responsibility over those aspects of the children’s lives.
Contact a Will County Parental Relocation Attorney
As you plan for your relocation and accompanying modifications to your parenting plan, the guidance of an experienced family law attorney is invaluable. At The Foray Firm, we can help you understand your legal rights and obligations and take the steps necessary to protect your interests and your children’s. Contact a Joliet parenting plan lawyer today at 312-702-1293.