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Can I Relocate With My Child Out of State After an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Child Custody

Bolingbrook child custody attorney parental relocation

It is not uncommon for one parent to move out of state following a divorce from the other parent. But when it comes to relocating with a minor child, an Illinois court must first determine if such a relocation is in the child’s best interests. Illinois law establishes a list of factors for the court to consider, including the circumstances and reasons for the relocation, the child’s educational opportunities at the new location, and whether the court can fashion a reasonable parenting plan if the move is allowed.

Illinois Court Reconsiders Earlier Decision to Deny Mother’s Request for Relocation

The parent seeking relocation bears the burden of proving that a proposed move will benefit the child. No parent should ever relocate under the assumption that the court will simply allow him or her to take the child along. In addition, should a court decide to reject a proposed relocation, the parent’s options for appeal can prove quite limited.

Take a recent decision from the Illinois Third District Appellate Court, In re Marriage of Prusak and Prusak. This case involved a married couple that previously lived together with their three children in Naperville. The parents divorced in 2012; under a marital settlement agreement, the parents would share custody of the children. While the children would continue to reside with the mother in Naperville, the father had certain guaranteed parenting time rights.

Several years after the divorce became final, the mother filed a petition in Illinois court to relocate with the children to Evansville, Indiana. The mother explained that her employer had offered her a full-time position there, and she could “no longer afford to live in Naperville.”

Following a hearing, the judge denied the mother’s petition. The court found that the mother’s claim that she could not afford to remain in Illinois was “without merit,” as she had not made any efforts to find more affordable housing in the area. The judge also noted that there were more “cultural opportunities” for the children in the Chicago suburbs versus rural Indiana. Additionally, the court said it was unable to “fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities” if the children were required to constantly travel between Evansville and Naperville.

Later, however, the trial court reversed course and agreed to grant the mother’s petition. The judge had explained that he could not “fashion a reasonable parenting plan.” The court was also concerned about the father’s difficulties in “securing supervision for the children” during his parenting time.

The father appealed to the Third District, arguing that the trial court acted improperly in reversing its original decision. The appellate court agreed. There was nothing to suggest the trial court “misapplied the law” when it initially denied the mother’s petition. Indeed, the Third District noted the mother had the burden to show relocation would benefit the children, and she failed to meet it.

Contact a Naperville Divorce Lawyer 

Even under the best of circumstances, relocation presents a significant legal challenge for both parents and children. This is why it is important not to take any action before consulting with a skilled Will County child custody attorney. Attorney Ronald L. Hendrix has more than 30 years of experience assisting clients with their divorce-related issues. Contact the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C. today at 630-416-7004 to schedule your free consultation.

Source:
https://courts.illinois.gov/R23Orders/AppellateCourt/2020/3rdDistrict/3190688R23.pdf

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