When parents divorce, the issues surrounding child custody will affect them until their children are grown. While this includes visitation schedules, it also includes restrictions on what parents can and cannot do. One example is limitations on when parents are allowed to move with their children, particularly out of state. This area of the law is commonly referred to as child relocation.
As the economy changes, more people find themselves moving, either because of their job or to find a job. Therefore relocation becomes much more likely. Of course, any relocation of a child to a different state, or even different timezone, is a complicated matter.
Illinois Laws on Child Relocation
In Illinois, the removal of a child after a divorce is governed by state statute. Under the law, a court may allow any person who has custody of a child to remove that child from the state so long as the removal is in the best interests of the child. The burden of proving that the removal is in the child's best interests is on the parent who wants to remove the child.
In the case of temporary removals from the state (to go on vacation, for example), the removing parent must notify the other parent or the other parent's attorney of a planned trip. The removing parent is also required to tell the other parent when the child will return, and to give the other parent an address and telephone number where the child will be reachable.
Evaluating the Child's Best Interests
When making decisions about removal, the court is required to consider what is in the best interests of the child. Illinois statute explains how the court is supposed to make this determination. One way it can do this is by ordering an evaluation to be completed by an expert. In these cases, an evaluator would actually prepare a report and may even be called as a witness in court by one of the parents to support that parent's argument regarding the child's best interests. The Illinois Supreme Court has listed factors that trial courts should consider in these cases. The court will ask:
- Will the move improve the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child?
- What are the motives of the custodial parent in trying to remove the child? Is it just a ruse intended to frustrate the other parent's ability to visit the child?
- What are the non-custodial parent's motivations for fighting the removal?
- Can a realistic and reasonable visitation schedule be worked out if the removal is allowed?
Additionally, one key factor that the trial court is supposed to consider is that it is generally considered to be in the best interest of the child to have a healthy and close relationship with each parent, so the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent are very important.
Call Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C.
If you have found yourself in a position where you need to relocate your child, or if your co-parent is trying to relocate your child and you do not agree with the relocation, you will need the help of experienced Illinois family law attorneys. Call Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C. today at 630-665-7676. We have built our practice on helping people like you fight for what is best for their children.