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New Law Redefines Parental Relocation

As the world becomes more and more digitally connected, it is easier than ever to find new opportunities for education and employment. Sometimes, however, these opportunities make take a person far from home, potentially out of state, and even outside of the country. For a single person or an intact family, the decision to move is difficult enough, but when a custody order or parenting plan is added to the equation, the situation can be even tougher.

Earlier this year, the Illinois legislature passed a sweeping family law reform measure which, among other considerations, quantifiably defines what constitutes a parental relocation and how such a move is to be handled by parents who are subject to a parenting plan.

Significant Change in Circumstances

According to the new law, parental relocation is considered a significant change in circumstances, which is grounds for modifying a custody order or allocated parental responsibilities. However, not every move is considered “relocation.” Parental relocation is defined in the law as a parent moving with a child:

  • More than 25 miles to a new home within Illinois from a current residence in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties;
  • More than 50 miles to a new home within Illinois from a current residence in any other Illinois county; or
  • More than 25 miles to a new home outside of Illinois from a current residence anywhere in Illinois.

Any move that is less than the listed limits is not considered a parental relocation and a parent is free to move with the child without interference by the court or the other parent.

Consent or Court Approval

Before proceeding with relocation, the parent wishing to move must seek the approval of the other parent and notify the court. If the other parent agrees to the move and the two can negotiate terms for maintaining a relationship with the child, the parenting plan will be modified by the court and the move can proceed. If the other parent does not agree, the court must decide if the move is in the child’s overall best interests. In doing so, the court will consider:

  • Educational and employment opportunities available at the current residence compared to those at the proposed new residence;
  • How the move will impact the child;
  • Reasons for the move, and for the other parent’s objection;
  • Presence of extended family near the current residence and at the proposed new residence; and
  • The commitment of the parent seeking the move to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent.

If the relocation is found to be in the child’s best interest, it will be approved. If not, a parent who relocates with the child anyway can face serious sanctions and penalties.

Working through child custody and parental responsibility concerns can be challenging, but our team is here to help. Contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney today to get the answers you need for your case. Call 630-868-3093 to schedule a confidential consultation with Keller Legal Services, P.C.