A common question we hear from is whether or not a parent can relocate with children after a divorce. With globalization and a more mobile population, individuals commonly relocate for work or to be together. Many times, this means leaving a family and support system behind. While this may work when things are going well in your marriage, it can make dissolving the marriage extra difficult, especially with children. Many times, when a couple dissolves their marriage, one of the spouses will desire extra help and may look to relocate to be closer to family and a support system. Other times, relocating to advance their career is important especially when parents are no longer together. In either scenario, this creates a delicate situation.
Starting the Process to Relocate With Children Post-Divorce
To begin the relocation process, the parent wishing to relocate must send written notice to the other parent. A copy of the notice must be filed with the Court. In most cases, this notice must be filed at least 60 days prior to the intended relocation. If the other parent consents, they need to sign the notice and the relocating parent must file the signed notice with the Court. Once this occurs, the relocating parent may relocate without any further Court action. However, if the non-relocating parent does not consent, the Court will need to make a determination prior to the relocation.
Relocation Based on Child’s Best Interests
The new relocation statute became effective on January 1, 2016. 750 ILCS 5/609.2. A court’s determination of relocation of a child is based on the child’s best interests. 750 ILCS 5/609.2(g). In determining the best interests of the child, the trial court considers the following relevant factors:
- the circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation;
- the reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation;
- the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child and specifically whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment;
- the educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- the presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location (the child’s ties to the current and proposed community and to extended family members);
- the anticipated impact of the relocation on the child;
- whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocation occurs;
- the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to relocation;
- possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities appropriate to the parents’ resources and circumstances and the developmental level of the child;
- minimization of the impairment to a parent-child relationship caused by a parent’s relocation; and
- any other relevant factors bearing on the child’s best interests.” [750 ILCS 5/609.2(g)(1) to (11)]
Relocation When Other Parent Fails to Exercise Parenting Time
Based on Illinois case law, Courts tend to grant relocation in cases where the other parent fails to exercise their parenting time. If the other parent regularly participates in parenting time, the Court will be reluctant to allow relocation. Especially if the child has family in Illinois. Although pursuant to the statute, the notice does not need to be provided more than sixty (60) days, you should give the notice as soon as possible. It is important to discuss a potential move with the other parent. It is also a good idea to go through the statute and think about the factors and the pluses and minuses in your favor.
The best-case scenario when a divorced parent wants to relocate with children is to talk to the other parent and try to reach an agreement. If the other parent will not agree, it is important to seek legal guidance from an experienced relocation attorney.