Child relocation laws in Illinois

Divorces and separations are emotionally turbulent times, particularly when a child is involved. Because of this, disputes regarding child custody, child support or even where the child will live can easily arise between parents. And, even if these specific issues have been resolved by an Illinois court order, other subsequent problems can quickly surface.

For instance, given today's tumultuous economy many parents are discovering that they need to move great distances in order to find work - sometimes across state lines. However, before a parent can remove a child from Illinois they must seek approval from the court, even if they are the primary custodial parent.

Illinois child removal

Child removal/relocation is governed by Party VI of Illinois' Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Specifically, that law states that before a parent can move from Illinois with a child they must seek leave (approval) of the court. The basic idea is that just because a court originally designated one parent as the custodial parent, the other noncustodial parent should not be deprived of their parental privileges or rights.

Ultimately, before a child can be removed the question revolves around what is considered to be in the best interests of the child, and the burden of proving the best interests of the child rests with the parent attempting to move out of Illinois.

When deciding what is in the best interests of the child, Illinois courts will often consider a variety of factors, including:

  • The likelihood that the proposed move will enhance the quality of life for the child and the custodial parent
  • The motives of the custodial parent seeking the move/relocation
  • The motives of the noncustodial parent in challenging the move
  • The visitation rights of the noncustodial parent
  • Whether a reasonable visitation schedule can be reached if the move is allowed - which is often interpreted to mean a schedule that will preserve and foster a child's relationship with the noncustodial parent

It is important to note that these factors - otherwise known as the Eckert factors - are not exclusive. No single factor is controlling over the others, and the weight given to each factor by the court varies based on the circumstances. But, ultimately the court is free to consider all evidence relevant to making its decision.

Given the emotional nature of child visitation and relocation disputes, it is often advisable to seek help in addressing any issues you may have. As such, if you are currently involved in a child relocation dispute, contact an experienced child relocation lawyer in your area to be advised of your rights and options.

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association

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