The application and enforcement of the law can be very complex in many situations. This can be especially true in cases related to allocated parental responsibilities—formerly child custody—and parenting time, or visitation. One of the fundamental principles of law is the concept of jurisdiction, which refers to the authority that a particular county, state or federal court system maintains over the parties and the subject matter of the case in question. Only a court with appropriate jurisdiction can make decisions and enter orders in accordance with applicable statutes.
In some situations, jurisdiction may be fairly straightforward. For example, if you live in Kane County, and were injured in an accident near your home caused by another resident of Kane County, you probably realize that the Kane County circuit court has jurisdiction over your case, and your claim should be made there. In other cases, however, jurisdiction may not seem quite so clear, at least to the average citizen. One such example can be found in the area of family law. If your parenting plan and parental responsibilities order were entered in Illinois, and you decide to move out of state, which state has continuing jurisdiction over your family’s case? Fortunately, there are laws in place to address this exact scenario.
Relocation and Substantial Change in Circumstances
When you decide to move out of Illinois with your child, you will need to obtain the other parent’s consent if your move to a new state will exceed 25 miles from your previous home. According to the recently updated Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), such a move is called a relocation and is considered a substantial change in circumstances for the purposes of modifying a child custody order or parenting plan. If the other parent does voluntarily grant consent, you can seek permission for the move from an Illinois court, who will consider a number of statutory factors as well as the child’s best interests.
Presuming the court grants approval for the relocation, you should be aware that a separate Illinois law specifies that moving under such circumstances may allow your case to remain under the jurisdiction of Illinois courts. The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) provides that the Illinois court’s exclusive jurisdictional authority over your case will continue until the child, both parents, and any person acting as a parent no longer reside in or “have a significant connection” to Illinois. This means that as long as one parent still lives in Illinois, issues regarding the parenting plan or custody order can still be heard in Illinois courts.
Shorter Out-of-State Moves
Since the law regarding relocation states that only out-of-state moves of more than 25 miles require permission of the court, what happens with moves of less than 25 miles just over the border into another state? Put simply, these cases are even easier. The UCCJEA states that when a parent and child move to a new state, but the move was not considered a relocation under the IMDMA, Illinois courts “shall continue to exercise exclusive jurisdiction and [Illinois shall] be considered the home state of a child.”
If you have questions about family law jurisdiction and how your case may be affected, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney for assistance. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., we can help you find the answers you need so that you can better understand your current situation and make informed decisions. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation today.