I am frequently asked if parents are allowed to move to another state or county with their child. This is an important question, and knowing the legal standards in this area can help you plan for your future and possibly prevent costly and time-consuming litigation.
Section 609.2 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage deals with this issue, which it refers to as "relocation" (previously referred to as removal). This law applies to both married parents and unmarried parents. The law states that any parent who has been allocated the majority of parenting time or equal parenting time may seek to relocate with a child. The parent seeking relocation must first request permission from the other parent in writing at least 60 days in advance of the desired date of relocation. If the other parent approves in writing, then you do not have to go to court to seek permission. However, if the other parent declines to agree, you need permission from the court. Talk to a lawyer about filing a motion for relocation.
But wait, there's more you need to know! The previous law on relocation used to permit a parent with sole custody (as it used to be called) to move anywhere within the state of Illinois without permission from the other parent. As you can imagine, this law was considered unfair by many non-custodial parents, because it allowed custodial parents to move hours away without permission, and the burden was left on the non-custodial parent to file a motion in court and assert his or her rights.
The legislature, considering this to be unfair, changed the definition of relocation to the following:
(1) a change of residence from the child's current primary residence located in the county of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will to a new residence within this State that is more than 25 miles from the child's current residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service;
(2) a change of residence from the child's current primary residence located in a county not listed in paragraph (1) to a new residence within this State that is more than 50 miles from the child's current primary residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service; or
(3) a change of residence from the child's current primary residence to a residence outside the borders of this State that is more than 25 miles from the current primary residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service.
Because of this change in definition, it may be possible for a parent to move from Chicago to Indiana without permission, but not from Chicago to, say, Springfield. Also, the law is written to prevent hopscotching to a far distance by only moving 25 miles away at a time. You can move 25 miles without permission, but if you want to move to another location that is more than 25 miles away from the original address of the child (meaning, the address where the child was living when the last parental responsibilities/custody order was entered), then you need permission.
One last note about relocation cases: they can be very difficult to win. The law states that the court making a decision for relocation must consider number of factors, but there is no fixed test. Every case depends on the circumstances. Courts are, in general, reluctant to allow a parent to move with a child when the other parent is involved and wants to continue to be involved in the child's life. Therefore, it is extremely important that you speak to an attorney if you want to move out of state with your child. Give us a call if you want to talk about your case, the factors that will apply to you, and for more information about legal representation in relocation cases.