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Relocating with the Kids After Divorce

cute little boy playing with cardboard box during relocation

If a custodial parent wants to relocate with the kids after divorce, he or she must get permission from the co-parent and approval from the court that issued the original custody order. Sometimes relocating to another area is the right thing to do for the family. It could mean escaping a toxic relationship, getting a better job, or obtaining a better education.

cute little boy playing with cardboard box during relocation

Child Relocation Laws in Illinois

In custody-ordered arrangements in Illinois, relocation is defined as a move at such a distance that would substantially interfere with the co-parent’s ability to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child. When parents have joint custody or shared parental responsibilities and decision-making in Illinois, a parent seeking to move with the child will have an additional hurdle to overcome. The parent must motion the court to become the primary custodial parent. If the parent gets primary physical custody, he or she can file a request for permission to relocate.

A Guardian Ad Litem will be Appointed

If the parent with residential custody files a motion to relocate with the child and the other parent does not agree to the relocation, the court will likely appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate whether the relocation is in the best interests of the child.  A parent seeking to relocate should contact an attorney as soon as possible — well before the intended location if possible — for advice on how to prepare the strongest case possible for relocation.  

What to Expect at a Relocation Hearing

At a relocation hearing, the relocating parent bears the initial burden of proof and must demonstrate that there’s a good faith reason for the relocation.

Once good faith is established, the court will assess additional factors to establish the impact on the child and the extent to which the interests of the child and both parents are accommodated. The judge will consider:

  • The extent to which the child’s quality of life is likely to improve in the new location.
  • Whether the relocating parent’s motives are honest and not intended to interfere with the non-relocating parent’s parenting time rights.
  • The availability of educational opportunities and the child’s developmental needs in the new location.
  • Whether the relocating parent will comply with additional visitation orders.
  • Whether it will be realistic for the other parent to have a visitation schedule that will preserve and foster the child-parent relationship.
  • The child’s preference if the child is of a sufficient age and maturity level.

The court will grant permission to relocate with the child after divorce if it determines that the move will accommodate the compelling interests of all parties and is in the best interests of the child.  The current parenting schedule and age of the child are important factors that the court considers in determining whether relocation is in the best interests of the child.  As there are numerous hurdles that a parent seeking to relocate must meet, a parent seeking to relocate needs an experienced attorney who can help the parent present the strongest case possible.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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