Can one parent leave Illinois with their children after a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Custody |

Co-parenting or actively sharing parental rights and responsibilities is difficult. Most parents find it challenging to adjust to spending a limited amount of time with their children instead of having access to them every day. Additionally, it can be a challenge to regularly interact with a co-parent. Custody exchanges and discussions about major parenting decisions can lead to disputes and stress for everyone in the family. Most families eventually adjust to shared parenting time in a co-parenting scenario.

The current arrangements could change with little warning if either parent sides to make a big change for themselves. New housing options, fresh career opportunities or a budding romance could inspire one parent to move or relocate. Can they take the children with them if they move across Illinois or leave the state while rebuilding after a divorce?

Relocations typically require pre-approval

A parental relocation is a move that is likely to have an impact on the parental rights of the other adult. Any relocation that could interfere with parenting arrangements or change the current plan for the children, such as forcing them to switch schools, likely requires pre-approval.

Illinois state statutes require a parent to provide 60 days’ notice to both their co-parent and the family courts about a prospective move. If the co-parents agree about the move and figure out a new arrangement for the division of parental rights and responsibilities, one parent can relocate with the children. They may need to pursue an uncontested custody modification before the actual move.

If both parents do not agree, then they may both need to attend a family court hearing. A judge looks at the current parenting arrangements, the reason for the move and the impact it might have on the family to determine if it is in the best interests of the children.

Judges do have the authority to allow a parent to relocate with the children, but they can also deny someone permission. At that point, a parent must either choose to remain at or near their current location or move without taking the children. Custody modifications may be necessary even if a judge declines to approve a relocation request.

Understanding the Illinois state approach to parental relocation can help those hoping for or worried about a proposed move. Parents need to know their rights and appropriate procedures to follow if they want a positive outcome in a complicated family law situation.