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Posted on in Child Custody

Kane County family law lawyerIf you share a child with your ex, and they are considering moving out of Illinois, you may feel nervous about what this means for the future of your relationship with your child. Fortunately, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act includes provisions limiting how far custodial parents can move with their children without court approval.

When is a Parent in Illinois Allowed to Move with a Child?

If your ex has custodial rights or parental responsibilities for at least half of the time, they are able to ask permission from the court to move and take the child with them.

A parent who lives in Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry, or Will County can move with a child within Illinois up to 25 miles away from where they lived previously, without receiving court approval. A parent who lives in any other county may move up to 50 miles away. Likewise, a parent who lives near the Illinois border with any other state may move into a different state as long as they remain within 25 miles of their previous location.

St. Charles IL divorce lawyerAfter a divorce, Illinois law permits a parent to move with their children to a new location within 25 miles of their current home in the counties surrounding Chicago, or within 50 miles of their current home anywhere else in the state, in some cases even across state lines. Relocations of a greater distance are sometimes possible with the approval of the court. However, regardless of your intended destination, a move can create significant stress for your children.

Factors to Consider Before Making the Decision to Move

If you are preparing for a divorce and are considering the possibility of moving with your child after the split, it is wise to explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of making yet another big change in the midst of the end of your marriage. On one hand, the idea of starting over and tackling all of the transitions at once can be appealing, but moving directly after the divorce can also trigger some less appealing side effects, especially where the children are concerned. 

Before you commit to moving after your divorce, here are some things to think about: 

Posted on in Child Custody

Kane County child relocation lawyerSometimes, life changes unexpectedly. A new job, new relationship, or death in the family may necessitate a move, but relocating your family is almost never easy. Moving with your child can be especially difficult during or in the wake of a divorce, as Illinois law places restrictions on relocating with children. In many cases, one parent’s desire to move must be balanced with the other parent’s right to parenting time and their children’s interests in staying where they are comfortable.

Illinois Child Relocation Laws

Before 2016, Illinois law held that a single or divorced parent could uproot their children for any destination within the state, but if they chose to leave the state even by a very small distance, permission from either the other spouse or the family court was required. With the revamping of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) in 2016, a new approach was adopted for parents who have at least half of the parenting time with their children.

Under the current law, a parent living in Kane County, Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, McHenry County, or Will County can move with their child to a new residence within Illinois, up to 25 miles from the original home, without the consent of the other parent or the family court. If a parent resides with their child outside of those counties, the allowable distance is increased to 50 miles, simply because the middle and southern counties in the state of Illinois are larger and less dense than the six counties immediately surrounding Chicago. If a parent wants to move outside the state of Illinois, they are still allowed to do so within a distance of 25 miles without seeking permission. However, it is important to remember that within that distance, Illinois remains the home state of the child for purposes of disputes over parental responsibilities. 

How to Help Your Children Prepare for Relocation After DivorceMoving to a new town or state can be hard for children under any circumstances, as they try to adjust to a new school, new friends, and a new routine. It can be even more difficult after a divorce, since children may be moving a significant distance away from one of their parents. If you are a single parent and your career or personal circumstances require relocation, you should be aware of the potential impact the move will have on your kids and do all that you can to make the situation easier for them.

Advice for Helping Your Children Cope

Relocations are usually easier for children if both parents make an effort to help them cope with the situation and maintain consistency as much as possible. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Modify Your Parenting Plan: In many cases, the parenting plan established during your divorce does not account for a relocation. If you are the custodial parent and you decide that relocation is necessary, you are required by Illinois law to notify the children’s other parent. If they agree to allow your relocation, you should work together to legally modify the parenting plan including any changes to parenting time and responsibilities. If they disagree, a court will have to rule on the relocation and updated parenting plan based on whether it is in the children’s best interests. In either case, having a clear parenting plan in writing that addresses the relocation can make it easier to uphold your children’s routine.
  2. Listen to Your Children’s Concerns: Your kids will likely have many questions about your upcoming move, including why it is happening, what their new home will be like, and whether they will continue to see their other parent. Be open to having these important conversations with your children, and do your best to acknowledge their feelings, answer their questions honestly, and help them understand.
  3. Plan for Their Next Stay with the Other Parent: When moving a long distance from a non-custodial parent, children may naturally fear that they will see the parent much less often. You can help alleviate this fear even before you move if both parents have conversations with the kids to plan for their next stay. You can also take advantage of technology to plan for frequent phone or video conversations when it is difficult to have regular time in person.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney Today

At Goostree Law Group, we have decades of experience guiding parents and families through divorce and the accompanying challenges, and we can help you plan for relocation in a way that protects the interests of you and your children. Call 630-584-4800 for a free consultation with a St. Charles family law attorney who can answer your questions.

Posted on in Child Custody

Making Long-Distance Parenting WorkIn the years following a divorce, opportunities come up that may require two parents to live in different parts of the country. You can contest your co-parent’s decision to relocate with your children, but the court may decide that the move is in their best interest. You may also find a career opportunity in another city that is too lucrative to pass up. Long-distance parenting is a difficult adjustment for you and your children and will never feel like an ideal situation. There are ways you can maintain a healthy relationship with your children.

  1. Regular Communication: It may be impractical to see your children in person frequently, but you should have a weekly schedule of when you will talk to them. Your children should be able to rely on you calling them at the same times each week and feel like you will respond to them if they need to contact you. Video calls can give your conversations more intimacy than voice calls.
  2. Regular Visits: Though less frequent that your calls, your in-person visits with them should also follow a regular pattern. Most of the time, you will need to travel to them for your visits. You can ask a court to consider your travel expenses when calculating your child support payments.
  3. Longer Visits: Your children can also travel to visit you, but it will be better for them to have a few long visits each year than several short visits. This lessens the stress of them traveling and gives you more uninterrupted time with them. Summer vacation is usually the best time for them to visit you because they can stay for several weeks.
  4. Normal Interaction: Long-distance parents may try to make up for not seeing their children more often by giving them gifts or planning fun outings during each visit. This gives them an unhealthy expectation that your relationship is based on you spoiling them. Being with them and doing normal activities should be enough. Save the gifts for special occasions.
  5. Cooperation: Long-distance parenting works best when your co-parent accommodates your efforts to contact and visit your children. As the full-time parent, he or she has even greater responsibility for your children than before. Your co-parent can make your parenting easier by preparing your children for your visits.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney

You need to modify your parenting agreement when you and your children no longer live near each other. A Kane County family law attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create a new parenting schedule that allows you to see your children. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.


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