Getting a divorce will require spouses and their children to make many different types of changes to their lives. These changes may continue in the years after the end of a marriage, and they may include plans to move to a new home in a different city, or even a major relocation to a different state or region. These plans can introduce a number of complications into the lives of ex-spouses, and in cases where divorced parents share custody of their children, certain procedures will need to be followed to make any necessary adjustments to custody orders.
In cases involving parental relocation, a parent will want to work with an attorney who can help them understand their rights, the issues that may affect them and their children, and the steps they can take to resolve any disputes that may arise. The law firm of Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC provides legal representation in a wide variety of cases involving divorce, child custody, and family law, and we have a comprehensive knowledge of the laws that affect these cases. We work to ensure that our clients are prepared to address these issues effectively, and we provide them with legal help and representation when negotiating agreements, filing petitions, and appearing in hearings in court.
Common Reasons for Post-Divorce Relocation
There are many valid reasons why an ex-spouse may wish to move to a new home or community following their divorce, including:
A person may have received a job offer that will require them to move to a different part of the country.
A person may choose to pursue educational opportunities, and they may wish to move to a city where they will attend college.
A person may wish to live closer to family members or other loved ones. This can sometimes be beneficial for parents who plan to receive assistance with childcare from their parents, siblings, or other members of their family.
A person may experience financial issues that affect their ability to pay living expenses. They may wish to relocate to a community that has a lower cost of living, or they may choose to purchase or rent a new home that is within their financial means.
A person may be looking to make a fresh start in a new community and leave an area that has unpleasant memories related to the breakdown of their marriage.
A parent may wish to relocate to an area where their child may pursue certain types of opportunities, such as receiving education at a good school or participating in sports or other activities.
Some or all of these issues may play a role in a person’s decision to relocate after their divorce, and a person will often need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of moving while also determining how their relocation may affect their ex-spouse. However, there may be some invalid reasons for relocation, such as when a parent wishes to move farther away from the other parent in order to limit the amount of time that parent will be able to spend with the couple’s children.
When Is a Move Considered a Parental Relocation?
If a parent’s plans to move to a new home will affect their child custody agreement, they may need to request modifications to the court’s orders. However, not every move will trigger the modification requirements. Illinois law details the requirements that will need to be met for a move to qualify as a parental relocation. These requirements generally apply to parents who have the majority of parenting time with their children or who share equal amounts of parenting time. A relocation will involve:
A change of residence in which a parent living in DuPage, Kane, Cook, Will, Lake, or McHenry County will be moving more than 25 miles away from where they currently live.
A change of residence in which a parent living in a county other than the ones mentioned above will be moving more than 50 miles away from where they currently live.
A change of residence in which a parent living in Illinois will be moving to a new home in a different state that is more than 25 miles away from where they currently live.
In any situations that meet the requirements described above, the parent who is planning to move will need to seek approval from a family court. In some other situations where parents plan to move to a new home, they may need to address any modifications that they believe are necessary. For example, if a non-custodial parent will be moving to a new state, this may not trigger the requirements for parental relocation, but the parent may still need to request modifications to their child custody agreement to address changes in the amount of time they will be able to spend with their children.
Procedures Followed in Parental Relocation Cases
When a custodial parent or a parent who shares equal parenting time plans to move, and they meet the requirements for parental relocation, they are required to notify the other parent and the court. They must provide a written notice at least 60 days before the day on which they plan to begin living in their new home, although exceptions may be made if this would not be practical, such as if plans are made to move within a shorter time period.
The notice sent by a parent must specify the date that a parent will be moving to their new home, the address where they will be living in the new location, and if the move will be temporary, the amount of time they expect the relocation to last. They must also file a copy of this notice with the applicable family court.
If the other parent does not object to the relocation, they may sign the notice that was provided to them, and the parent who plans to relocate may file this notice in court. If the parents are in agreement about the modifications that they believe should be made to child custody or parenting time, the relocation will generally be approved. However, a judge will review the relocation request and the proposed modifications to ensure that they are in the children’s best interests. If the judge determines that a relocation would not be in the children’s best interests, the request may be denied, or the parents may be required to make changes to the modification request to ensure that their children’s needs will be met.
If the non-moving parent objects to the relocation, does not agree with the proposed modifications to the child custody agreement, or does not sign the relocation notice, the parent who plans to relocate will need to file a petition with the court seeking permission to relocate and proposing modifications to their parenting plan. A hearing will then be held in which both parents may make arguments supporting their case, and a judge will decide whether to approve the relocation, and will also make decisions about any necessary modifications to child custody and parenting time.
Factors Considered During Parental Relocation Hearings
When considering a relocation request, a judge will focus on protecting children’s best interests. Most of the time, it is presumed that it is best for children if they are able to maintain close, ongoing relationships with both parents, and a judge will look to find solutions that will foster these types of relationships, encourage cooperation between parents, and ensure that children will be able to pursue the opportunities that are available to them in the area where they will be living.
Illinois law details a number of factors that a judge should consider in these cases, including:
The circumstances surrounding a planned relocation and the parent’s stated reasons for moving to a new home and community. The judge may consider whether a parent is planning to move in good faith or whether they are doing so for their own benefit without considering the ways their children may be affected.
Any reasons that the other parent has for objecting to the relocation. The judge may look at whether these objections are being made in good faith, such as because the parent is concerned about limitations on the time they will be able to spend with their children, or whether they are acting maliciously in an attempt to make things more difficult for the other parent.
The wishes of the children. The judge may listen to children’s opinions about the planned relocation while considering a child’s maturity level and their ability to express their preferences.
The history of the parents’ relationships with their children. The judge may specifically consider whether a parent has not participated in parental responsibilities in the time since the couple was divorced, such as by failing to exercise their right to have parenting time with their children when scheduled.
The opportunities for education or other pursuits at both locations. The judge will look at whether the schools the children would attend following a relocation may provide better or worse educational opportunities than what is available at their current home to determine whether the move would truly be in their best interests.
Proximity to extended family members at both locations. It can be important for children to maintain close relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or other family members. To address this issue, the judge may look at whether moving to a new location will limit children’s ability to spend time with extended family or whether it may allow them to increase time with family members by living closer to them.
Whether a reasonable parenting agreement can be created. The judge will look at whether modifications can be made to a parenting plan that will allow both parents to exercise their parental responsibilities based on the resources available to them. They will also look to minimize any potential impairment to parent-child relationships and ensure that both parents will be able to continue participating in making decisions about raising their children as they had in the past, while also allowing children to spend sufficient time with each parent on a regular basis.
Any other relevant factors. The judge may also look at whether there are any issues that have affected parents or children in the time since the couple was divorced, as well as any factors that may play a role in their case in the future. Some issues that may be raised may include concerns about mental health, substance abuse, or domestic violence, as well as any extraordinary needs that apply for children, such as medical or psychological treatment that may be necessary.
Contact Our DuPage County Parental Relocation Lawyers
While some cases in which a parent plans to move following their divorce may be straightforward, others can become complicated due to disagreements about requested child custody modifications. At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, we can provide representation for parents who wish to relocate or those who need to respond to an ex-spouse’s request to modify their parenting plan. We work to protect our clients’ parental rights while helping them find solutions that will provide for their children’s best interests. To learn how we can help address these issues, contact our Elmhurst post-divorce relocation attorneys at [[phone]].