Before 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act allowed a court to grant a custodial parent permission to remove a minor child from Illinois when it is in the child’s best interests. The parent seeking the removal had the burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that the removal would be in the child’s best interests.
In Re Marriage of Eckert, 119 Ill 2d. 316, 326 outlined the factors that a court could use to help determine the best interests of the child:
- Likelihood that the proposed move will enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child;
- The custodial parent’s motives for seeking removal (is this just a ruse to deny parenting time to the other parent?);
- The non-custodial parent’s motives for resisting removal (is the other parent objecting just to further frustrate their ex?);
- The effect removal will have on the noncustodial parent’s visitation right;
- Can a new visitation schedule after the move be both workable and reasonable?;
In 2016 the Illinois legislature enacted a new law, 750 ILCS 5/609.2, that provides a specific procedure by which a parent may seek to relocate with a child.
The first question is “how far is the move.” If the move is less than 25 miles away from the child’s current home, it does not count as a relocation and the parent may move without notice or permission.
The relocating parent must first provide notice “must provide written notice of the relocation to the other parent under the parenting plan or allocation judgment. A copy of the notice required under this Section shall be filed with the clerk of the circuit court.”
“The notice must provide at least 60 days’ written notice before the relocation unless such notice is impracticable (in which case written notice shall be given at the earliest date practicable) or unless otherwise ordered by the court. At a minimum, the notice must set forth the following:
(1) the intended date of the parent’s relocation;
(2) the address of the parent’s intended new residence, if known; and
(3) the length of time the relocation will last, if the relocation is not for an indefinite or permanent period.” 750 ILCS 5/609.2(d)
The other parent may agree to the relocation by signing the notice and then no further court order or action will be necessary. But if the other parent objects, the relocating parent must file a petition for relocation with the courts.
The courts will use the following factors to determine if relocation is allowed and, if so, how the parenting agreement should be modified:
(1) the circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation;
(2) the reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation;
(3) the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child and specifically whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment;
(4) the educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
(5) the presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
(6) the anticipated impact of the relocation on the child;
(7) whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocation occurs;
(8) the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to relocation;