During their lifetimes, most people relocate about a dozen times. Some people move to be closer to work. Others move to be closer to or further away from family, and others move for different reasons. Since almost all these moves happen before age 45, many of them involve small children.
To keep pace with the transitory nature of most families, Illinois and other states recently revamped their family law relocation rules. It is now much easier for divorced parents to relocate with their children, especially if the move is a local one.
Nevertheless, these moves often involve some legal issues. Furthermore, non-residential parents are able to block these moves or at least force the residential parent to make some compromises. So, both parents have legal rights, and only a good Chicago family law attorney can effectively enforce them.
Moving v. Relocating
Largely because of the aforementioned legal changes, these terms are not synonymous in Illinois. Moving does not involve a family law judge, but relocation requires court approval.
In Chicagoland (Will, McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, or Cook County), residential parents are moving if the new address is fewer than 25 miles from the old address. Elsewhere in Illinois, the limit is 50 miles.
Things are rather complex if the family is moving/relocating to or from Chicagoland and Downstate Illinois.
There is also a measurement dispute. Is the 25 mile/50 mile limit driving distance or as the crow flies? Does this distance account for common traffic delays or not? Lawmakers hoped some recent amendments would clarify these questions, but the new provisions just made things more confusing.
This section will be brief. If the parents agree to the relocation, the judge usually signs the order without requiring a hearing.
If the parents mostly agree, pre-filing mediation is usually a good idea. Typically, the parties work out an arrangement whereby the residential parent relocates with the children and the non-residential parent receives some accommodations, such as longer visitation times. As long as the motion is agreed upon, most judges do not ask questions.
A quick side note here. Judicial oversight only kicks in if the parents have equal or roughly equal parenting time allotments. If one parent has severely limited or no visitation, that parent usually has no legal rights in this area.
If mediation or agreement fails, one parent, usually the relocating parent, must file a motion to modify the existing paperwork. The judge will approve the modification if the move is in the best interests of the children.
Most relocations are in the best interests of the parent, but the best interests of the children are another matter. Work-related relocations are a good example. It is usually in the parent’s best interests to be closer to work. But what about the children? A judge might not approve a modification unless the movant frames it with the children’s best interests in mind. Perhaps the new neighborhood has better schools, better healthcare, or is safer.
Connect With a Hard-Working Attorney
Move-away modifications are more streamlined than they were, but there are still some intricacies involved. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Chicago, contact Delaney Heckman.