Over the last few months, Illinois has been preparing for a new era of family law that is set to begin on January 1, 2016. Thanks to a sweeping reform measure that was passed by the state legislature in the spring and signed by Governor Bruce Rauner this past summer, major changes are coming to the state’s approach to divorce, child custody, and other family-related concerns. A few weeks ago, a post on this blog talked about the law’s effect on existing statutes regarding moving with a child out of state while subject to custody order. The new law provides more restrictive limitations for moving, even within the state, and also offers specific criteria to be considered by the court when a parental relocation petition is under review.
Parental Relocation Defined
The new law defines a parental relocation as a move that constitutes a significant change in circumstances for the purposes of modifying an order child custody (parental responsibility arrangements, per the new law) and visitation (parenting time). To eliminate objective arguments over substantial change, parental relocations are also determined by the distance of the intended move. Specifically, a parental relocation is a move by parent with primary residential parenting responsibilities from:
- A residence in Cook, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, Lake, and Will Counties to new residence in Illinois that is more than 25 miles away from the child's current residence;
- A current primary residence anywhere else in Illinois to a new residence inside the state’s borders that is more than 50 miles away; or
- A current primary residence anywhere in Illinois to a new residence in another state that is more than 25 miles away from the current primary residence.
If the other parent will not voluntarily consent to the move, and the subsequent modification of the parenting agreement, the court will consider the merits of the case.
In deciding whether to allow the parental relocation, the court must take into account:
- The circumstances and reasons for the requested relocation;
- Why the other parent is objecting;
- Each parent’s history and relationship with the child, and whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise parental responsibilities;
- Educational opportunities for the child and the presence or absence of extended family at the current primary residence and requested new location;
- The child’s wishes, as appropriate based on his or her age and maturity;
- How the move will impact the child;
- How the parenting agreement and parental responsibilities will be affected or how they can be accommodated if the move is permitted;
- Ways to minimize the impairment of the parent-child relationship as a result of the move; and
- Any other relevant factor.
The court, as in all family-related concerns, is responsible for looking after the best interests of the child. If the move, overall, would benefit the child more than the current primary residence would, the relocation will be approved, and the respective orders will be appropriately modified.
If you are a parent seeking a relocation or you are trying to keep your child close to maintain your parenting time and relationship, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Even with the best intentions, parental relocations can be extremely stressful on a family, and our compassionate team is ready to assist you throughout the process. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a consultation today at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C..