Our client Wayne, came to us seeking help having Illinois retain child custody jurisdiction in his case. Wayne is a Navy officer with a long history serving the country in the United States Navy. He’s been doing that for the past 17 years. While he was in the service, his wife decided she wanted a divorce, and they divorced amicably. But while he was deployed, his wife moved from the State of Illinois with his daughter, all without the Court’s permission.
It became a constant battle to see his little girl.
In Illinois, you need to ask the Court’s permission in order to remove a child from the State of Illinois if you and the other parent have an Illinois court order dictating each parties’ parenting schedule. That didn’t stop Wayne’s wife.
I guess she figured that since he was deployed, there was really nothing he could do about it. At that time, Wayne could have hired a family law attorney to fight her, but he had other things on his mind while deployed and at sea and did not timely object. That was years ago. Now, he recently found himself in court again when his ex-wife wanted to move the child custody case from Illinois down to Texas.
Wayne’s ex-wife looked to the Illinois statute 750 ILCS 36/202, which states that:
What Wayne’s ex-wife didn’t know, was that Wayne was still a resident of the State of Illinois. He may not have lived here for years while he was in the Navy, but he still pays taxes to Illinois and files his yearly return here. It is his intention to reside in Illinois when he retires from the Navy, which could be as soon as three years from now.
Wayne could have agreed to let her move the case to Texas since he admittedly was residing in another state as well. However, he found it was troublesome how much his daughter had moved around in her short life. His daughter had been relocated to over 5 different states in her 10 years and it was too much. Wayne felt that the only way to keep his ex-wife accountable was through the court system and the system that knew their case was in Illinois.
When Wayne’s ex failed to move the case under 750 ILCS 36/202, she attempted to move the case because it wasn’t convenient for her to hear it in Illinois. Under Illinois’ inconvenient forum law, 750 ILCS 36/207, it provides as follows:
Although Wayne’s ex-wife lived in another jurisdiction, she had to have the Illinois court give up its jurisdiction and agree to let Texas take it. After many hours in court and a lot of negotiation, Illinois decided to keep the case. It felt good to defeat her and to demonstrate that just because Wayne had not fought her initially when she moved with their daughter, those days were over and he was not about to be pushed around by his ex anymore. Illinois retains jurisdiction on this case and found that it was not inconvenient to litigate here, as Wayne would need to travel to Texas or Illinois, and based on all the evidence, Wayne’s domicile was Illinois.
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