Your Family Matters

Can you relocate with your child ?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | family law

Americans love having the freedom to pick up stakes and move somewhere else for a fresh start. That may be especially true for people in Illinois. A report from last year noted that our state has experienced 10  years in a row of population decline, a change driven chiefly by residents moving to other states.

But if you have a child custody order with another parent, there are important legal limits on your ability to move — especially if you are planning to move with your child.

Request for relocation

Under Illinois law, when one parent wishes to relocate, this represents a “significant change in circumstances” that affects the other parent’s rights. A parent who has the majority of (or an equal amount of) parenting time can seek to relocate with the child.

Note that these restrictions don’t apply to a situation in which a parent wishes to move a short distance across town with their child. To qualify as a relocation, the move must be either out of state or:

  • 25 miles away, if the child currently lives in Will, Lake, Kane, McHenry, DuPage or Cook County.
  • 50 miles away, if the child currently lives outside of one of those six counties in the Chicago metropolitan area.

To relocate with a child, the parent must give written notice to the court and the other parent at least 60 days before the intended move. It’s a good idea to give more notice, if possible. And, if you are on decent terms with the other parent, it’s always best to discuss the matter with them before you begin the legal process.

If the other parent does not object to your request, they sign the notice. Once you have filed the signed notice with the court, you’re free to move. However, if the other parent refuses to sign or objects to the move, you must file a petition to relocate with the court.

Best interest of the child

If you have filed a petition to relocate, the court holds a hearing. Typically, both parents attend the hearing to argue their cases. The court makes a decision based on whether it determines the move is in the best interest of the child.

In doing so, the court looks at a number of factors, including your reasons for wanting to move, the impact it will have on the child and, if the child is old enough, the child’s wishes.

Note that in situations involving domestic violence, the parent may be able to move without going through all these steps.