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Can I Take My Children Out of State in Illinois?

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Categorized as Child Relocation

We receive inquiries regularly from parents of children in Illinois regarding whether or not they can remove their child from the state of Illinois when they are estranged from their child’s other parent.  The answer varies, depending on different situations.

Temporary Removal for a Vacation or Trip

Parents are free to remove minor children from the state of Illinois for a vacation or a trip, so long as there is no court order which prohibits them from doing so, and for so long as the travel does not impact the other parent’s parenting time.  There is an automatic stay that goes into place when a divorce case is filed, however, so parents should be careful to ensure they are not violating the automatic stay that goes in place when the divorce case is filed.  They should ensure that they notify the other parent that they will be traveling, provide an itinerary and any flight or travel information, a phone number where the child can be reached and the dates they will be gone and returning.  This should be provided in writing so that the other parent cannot claim they were not notified.  In the event that you have a parentage case or divorce case pending and you are seeking to take a trip that would impact the other parent’s time, the safest way to do this is to obtain a court order permitting the travel. This can be accomplished by agreement of the parties, or, worst case scenario, by filing a motion asking the Judge for permission to travel.

Relocating a Child During a Pending Case

“Relocation” is a legal term in Illinois that refers to removing a child from the state of Illinois for something beyond simply traveling.  This term implies it is a more long-term move out of state, such as to permanently reside in another state.  Relocation refers to moving a minor child more than 25 miles away from where they currently reside, whether that relocation is outside of the state of Illinois or within the confines of the state of Illinois.  For moves greater than 25 miles away from where a child currently lives, a court order is needed before the relocation can occur.  In 2022, Illinois statutes were modified to allow for a “temporary” relocation of a minor child, while the bigger issue of permanent relocation is pending.  This might allow a parent to move their child for a job, or for a similar reason, before a final relocation is determined.  However, if you want to do a temporary relocation, a court order is still required, whether it is by agreement, or by the court hearing a motion on the issue. You cannot move a child more than 25 miles away from where they currently live whether it is within the state of Illinois or outside of Illinois, without some sort of court order authorizing it, or there are serious repercussions (including but not limited to having to send your minor child to live with their other parent, assuming they live in the area where the child was residing prior to the move.)

Permanent relocation is similar. It requires the agreement of the parties in a court order, a court order from a Judge granting permission for a permanent move.

Planning for a Child Relocation Case

In our family law practice, we assist clients regularly in planning for a potential relocation case.  This includes figuring out if child relocation is a viable option, and weighing the factors the court will consider when determining a relocation.  It is extremely important that a parent seeking relocation not make any “sudden moves” without the Court’s permission. 

For example, if someone obtains a new job that is in another state, they may not want to buy a property near the new job location until they are certain that the minor child will be able to go with them temporarily.  Often jobs are not a great reason to relocate solely on their own because the relocation has to specifically serve the child’s best interests, especially if their other parent lives in Illinois still.  Emphasis is given to the child maintaining a close and loving relationship with both parents.  The worst scenario is when a potential client comes to us and they have accepted a new job out of state and signed a lease or purchased a residence, only to find out their spouse is objecting to the move after the fact.  To stay out of this scenario it is important to consult an experienced attorney from the beginning of a relocation case to determine how this type of scenario can be avoided.

If you have a question regarding a child custody issue, feel free to contact our office for a  consultation with our

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