What Are the Rules for Moving Back Home After a Divorce with Children?
Let’s assume you grew up outside of Illinois, resided in Chicago for your married life, had children while married and living in Illinois, and then get divorced in Illinois. If you wanted to move back to your home state to take advantage of: your family’s support network, job opportunities, or for other reasons, it could be difficult to move return to your home state if the other parent objects.
In short, you will need to learn more about “relocation” and how Illinois courts make determinations concerning parents who plan to relocate with the children from the marriage.
Learning More About Relocation and Parental Responsibilities
To think through the situation we described above in more detail, let us give you a hypothetical example. In this scenario, Parent A grew up in Idaho her entire life, but she moved to Chicago to marry Parent B. While living in Chicago—Parent A and Parent B had a child. They remain married for a short while before Parent A filed for divorce. Parent A and Parent B’s divorce decree provides that they both share custody, or parental responsibilities. In other words, both parents should be making significant decisions about the child’s upbringing together in addition to spending physical time with the child.
Sometime after the divorce case ended, Parent A decides she wants to move back to Idaho with the child. Is she able to do so? In this hypothetical, Illinois is the “home” state, and Illinois law would apply. Would an Illinois court permit Parent A to move from Chicago to Idaho?
Illinois Law and Relocation of the Parent and Child
Under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/609.2), the parent’s relocation constitutes a substantial change in circumstances such that the court can modify an allocation judgment permitting the parent to relocate with the child. You are relocating if you:
- Move more than 25 miles from the child’s original home if it is in Cook, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, Lake, or Will Counties or the new home is out of state; or
- Move more than 50 miles away from the original home within Illinois if it is not in Cook County, DuPage, McHenry, Kane, Lake, or Will Counties.
This relocation law only applies if parents share equal parenting time, or the parent seeking to relocate has been allocated a majority of the parenting time. Before seeking court involvement, Illinois law requires Parent A to provide notice in writing at least 60 days in advance of the planned relocation, providing the following information:
- Intended date of relocation;
- Address of intended new residence (if the parent knows it); and
- Length of time relocation will last (only if it is not permanent).
If Parent B agrees in writing, no further action is required. If Parent B objects, a court may be called upon to make the decision. In deciding whether to grant Parent A’s request to modify the allocation judgment in order to relocate with the child to her home state, an Illinois court would take into account numerous factors to decide whether a relocation is in the child’s best interest, including but not limited to the following:
- Reasons for relocation;
- Why other parent is objecting to relocation;
- History of each parent’s relationship with the child;
- Educational opportunities for the child at current and new locations;
- Presence or absence of extended family at current and new locations;
- Impact of relocation on the child;
- Whether court will be able to allocate parental responsibilities adequately if the relocation occurs; and
- Wishes of the child.
If Parent A wants to move to a “home” state where she has a lot of extended family and a strong support system, this could be an important factor in the court’s decision whether to modify an allocation judgment.
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