In custody situations, a change in circumstances occurs where one of the parties has an interest to move out of state. Section 609(a) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/609(a)) governs petitions for removal of the minor child. The burden of proving such removal is to show that the removal of the minor child to another state would be in the best interest of such child and this burden is on the party seeking the removal. Case law in Illinois has demonstrated that the “mere desire of the custodial parent to move to another state, without more, is insufficient to show that he move would in the in [child’s] best interest.” In re Marriage of Eckert, 199 ILL.2d.316. In re Marriage of Eckert also established factors that should be considered by a Circuit Court in evaluating a petition for removal; the proposed move in terms of the possibility of an improved quality of life for the custodial parent and child, the motives of the custodial parent in seeking the removal to determine whether the custodial parent is attempting to frustrate visitation and the motives of the non-custodial parent resisting the removal. The Court is also encouraged to examine the potential hardship to the child, the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent, and the rights of the non-custodial parent. The Court is also encouraged to look at whether a reasonable and realistic visitation schedule can be developed.
It is important for parties petitioning the court to remember and examine these factors before requesting to move out of state with the minor children. A certain case in Illinois demonstrated that the courts will allow a mother to move out of state with the minor children when the mother has family in the other state and she can demonstrate a better opportunity to obtain gainful employment. The father, who resided in Illinois, was not close with his family and did not have a record of stable employment. The Court determined that it was in the best interest of the minor child and the mother to move, and the purpose of the move was not to frustrate visitation. However, Mom did have to pay a portion of the minor child and father’s travel expenses. In re Marriage of Krystal Guthrie 915 N.E.2d 43
Every case is different and will be viewed on a case by case basis but these factors set forth what the Court will look at when making a determination whether a child is permitted to move out of Illinois.