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Relocation of a Parent and Children in Divorce Cases

Child custody is an important and often central issue in divorce cases. Relocation of a custodial parent after a divorce is an especially difficult and potentially complicated element of many child custody disputes. Both the custodial parent seeking to relocate and the non-relocating parent should be aware of what factors are involved in resolving such cases under Illinois law.

In general, provided that it does not violate the terms of the divorce, Illinois law allows custodial parents to relocate or remove a child to another state. However, the parent wishing to relocate must give proper notice and details to the non-relocating parent prior to the move, and if that parent objects, the custodial parent must get an Order of Removal from the courts.

In order for removal to be granted, the custodial parent must demonstrate to the court that the move is in the best interests of the child and that she or he has an important reason for leaving the state. Courts are expected to weigh many factors in making these determinations. According to the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Eckert, some of these factors include:

•· Whether the proposed move will enhance the quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child

•· The custodial parent's motives in seeking the removal, and whether the proposed move is merely a ruse intended to defeat or frustrate visitation

•· The non-relocating parent's motives in resisting the removal

•· The proposed move's likely effect on the non-relocating parent's visitation or placement rights

•· Whether a realistic and reasonable visitation or placement schedule for the non-relocating parent can be worked out

Relocation within the state of Illinois does not usually require an Order of Removal, but must not jeopardize the non-relocating parent's visitation or placement rights.

Relocations can be stressful, but not impossible to pursue. Should you have questions about how a relocation may affect your family's child custody situation, please consult an experienced family law attorney to explore your options.

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