Illinois Child Custody and Visitation
Divorce is difficult enough – but what happens with your children makes things even more difficult. The decision as to what happens to the children after the divorce, that is, who they will live with, where they will spend their holidays, and who will make important decisions for the child, will be determined by the desires of the parents, or the court if the parents cannot agree. The Illinois legal standard is “best interest of the child.” That is, the Court will attempt to decide what is in the child’s best interest in terms of who makes parenting decisions (shared or sole) and who will spend time with the children in what proportions. Sometimes, after a divorce decree is finalized and a parenting arrangement is determined, changes to the divorce judgment may be necessary. For example, what if you and your ex-spouse share parental responsibilities—formerly called a joint custody arrangement—but you have been offered a job in another state? Despite the finality of divorce settlement arrangements, changes may be warranted in certain circumstances. Finding the right Illinois child custody attorney to advocate for a post-judgment modification is the best way to ensure your rights are protected and you have the best chance at ensuring the best path for your children’s future.
Removal of a Child from Illinois
The only proper (and legal) way to remove a child from Illinois when you have an existing arrangement for parental responsibilities is to go through the court system. Failure to follow these procedures may lead to kidnapping charges, or worse, loss of your rights regarding your children.
Removal may be either:
- Temporary: Relocation is temporary if you wish to go on a vacation relocate for a school break or another relatively short period of time; or
- Permanent: Relocation is considered permanent if you are moving and not planning to return. This relocation may be due to a new job, needs of family members (caring for an ill family member, taking care of a new family member), or threat of physical violence from a third party (or the child’s other parent).
Both temporary and permanent removal requires the consent of the child’s other parent. Temporary removal can be accomplished without court order only if the other parent agrees, usually in writing. The same is true for international travel, though the consent of both parents may need to be recorded in a court order in order to issue a passport to the minor or to travel in certain specific countries. In order to protect yourself against allegations that you did not tell the other parent about your travel plans or ask for permission before leaving, it is recommended that you:
- Have some written correspondence (email, written letter, etc) whereby the other parent agrees to allow the child to travel with you;
- Provide the other parent with the address, phone number, contact information, and duration of the trip; and
- Err on the side of caution if the other parent seems ambivalent; if the other parent fails to clearly agree or fails to agree, you will need to get a court order to remove the child from the state, even for a short while.
Following these simple tips will ensure your compliance with any outstanding court orders and demonstrate your adherence to the law. If a court order becomes necessary, be advised that it may take many months for this to be accomplished. It is best to begin the process as soon as you know you may want to travel. It should be noted that the court may recognize certain situations as “emergencies”, such as if there is a medical emergency or death in the family that requires immediate travel, and may help expedite the process or issue a temporary order of removal. Temporary Orders of Removal require strict compliance; there may be severe consequences for failure to abide by their specific terms (such as when you must bring the child back to Illinois).
Permanent removal of a child from Illinois almost always require a court order. If the parent who has primary parental responsibilities regarding the child must relocate for personal, professional, or familial reasons, that parent must petition the court for approval.
To determine whether or not to grant the removal request, the court will look to the same standards it looks to when determining child custody initially—the best interests of the child. The court may be more likely to allow the removal of the child if there is a threat to physical safety, or a medical or financial emergency warrants the relocation. The court may be less likely to remove the child if the move is for purely personal reasons or if it would so seriously disrupt the child’s routine that it is better for the child to remain in Illinois. The maturity of the child, the age, desires of the child, and reason for the move are heavily taken into consideration.
Illinois Family Law Attorneys
Whether you are looking to take a trip or relocate permanently, as a divorced parent, it is critical to understand your rights and responsibilities. Consulting with a skilled Illinois family law attorney before making any changes to your parenting or custody arrangement will make the process quicker and easier, as well as improve your chances of success. At Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C., we tailor our practice to each of our client’s unique needs. We understand that after the divorce the last thing you want to do is end up in court again with your ex-spouse. We work hard to make the process as quick as possible and ensure that you understand what is going on in every step of the process. Contact us to discuss your case.