Your Family Matters

What if a parent wants to relocate with a child after divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2022 | family law

Family law issues are common in Illinois. People whose marriages have broken down will have a lot to consider. Among the most common issues center on finances, property and support. However, children can be the foundation for extensive dispute. This does not end simply because there is a custody and parenting time agreement. The living arrangements may change. If the custodial parent wants to relocate with the child, this could be challenging. Both parties need to be fully cognizant of the law before reacting in a negative manner. Although this may be nerve-wracking, there is always the possibility that it can be settled amicably. Being prepared is fundamental and that starts with knowing the basics.

Understanding relocation and how it can impact an agreement

Parents who either have the bulk of parenting time or equal parenting time have the legal right to relocate with the child. Based on the family law agreement, the parent who intends to move must inform the other parent in writing. This information will be available to the other parent except in cases where domestic violence is an issue and there is inherent danger to the other parent or the child. There must be 60 days’ notice before the relocation takes place. If the move is urgent, then the notification must be given as early as possible. In the notification, the other parent must be told: when the move will take place; the new address; and the duration of the relocation.

If the parent does not adhere to these requirements, it could hinder the attempt to move. Since this is a substantial change in circumstances, then the parenting time agreement will be adjusted accordingly. If, for example, the parents had weekday visitation and this would be complicated by the new distance, the agreement may be changed to grant the noncustodial parent more time when it will be easier. That could be during summer vacations or school breaks. If the noncustodial parent does not agree to the move, the custodial parent will need to file a petition for it.

How will the parenting plan be modified?

As with any child-related issue, the child’s best interests are viewed first and foremost. The court will consider the situation; why the parent is moving and why the other parent is objecting; the relationship between the parents and the child; the child’s education in the new location; if there is extended family in the area; the impact on the child; if the parental responsibilities can be adjusted effectively; what the child wants – if he or she is of sufficient age to give an opinion; how parental rights will be addressed; and maintaining a relationship with the non-relocating parent.

With parental relocation, it is imperative to be fully prepared

People in the middle of a disagreement after they have gotten divorced should be fully aware of the inherent challenges they will face. Disputes centered around children can be the most complicated aspects of any situation due to the emotional and personal investment in having a relationship with the child. For the custodial parent, the relocation could be due to a unique job opportunity, wanting to be closer to family, a new relationship or to receive education and training for more income. The noncustodial parent who has visitation rights could have viable reasons to protest the move. That might include being unable to navigate the new template amid complications from living further apart, financial factors and fear that the relationship between parent and child will suffer.

These cases do not necessarily need to be adversarial. There may be alternatives to forge a workable agreement that suits everyone after the relocation. Or it might need to go to court to try and craft a different plan. Whether it is from the perspective of the custodial parent or the noncustodial parent, it is imperative to have experienced assistance with this area of family law regardless of how the case proceeds. Before saying or doing something that will make the case more acrimonious, it is wise to have help. Discussing the case with professionals who understand this landscape is vital to try and find a positive resolution.