By Jordan Levey
What is “Relocation?”
Relocation (formerly known as “removal”) means permanently moving with the minor child(ren) to a new location that is a certain distance from the child(ren)’s current primary residence. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to seek permission from the other parent and/or the Court before relocating with your child(ren). This article discusses when it’s necessary to take action before relocating, and outlines the required procedural steps.
Who may seek to relocate with a child?
A parent who has been allocated the majority of parenting time, or either parent who has been allocated equal parenting time may seek to relocate with a child.
When do I need to take additional action in order to relocate with my child(ren)?
The answer depends on the location of the child’s current primary residence, and the location of the desired relocation. If the child’s primary residence is within the county of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will, then you will need to take further action if you desire to move with the child(ren) more than 25 miles from the child’s current residence within the State of Illinois. If the child’s primary residence is located in another county in Illinois, then you will need to seek permission if you want to move with the child(ren) more than 50 miles from the child’s current residence within Illinois. Regardless of the child(ren)’s current county of residence, you will also need to take action if you want to move outside the State of Illinois more than 25 miles from the child(ren)’s current primary residence.
How do we measure miles?
For the purposes of relocation, miles are measured by an Internet mapping service, rather than “as the crow flies.”
What do I need to do if I want to relocate with my child(ren)?
The proper relocation procedures are set forth in Section 609.2 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”). If you want to relocate with your child(ren), then you must first provide written notice to the other parent. You should also file a copy of the written notice with the clerk of the circuit court. You should provide at least 60 days’ notice before the desired relocation, unless it is impracticable to do so or the court orders otherwise. The notice should contain the following:
- The intended date of your relocation;
- The address of your intended new residence, if known; and
- The length of time the relocation will last, if not permanent or indefinite.
If the other parent agrees with the proposed move and signs the notice, then you will file the notice with the court and no further action is necessary. The court will modify the parenting plan or allocation judgment to accommodate the relocation as agreed by you and the other parent, as long as the agreed modification is in the child’s best interests.
However, if the other parent fails to respond to the notice, objects to the relocation, or otherwise does not agree to modify the parenting plan or allocation judgment, then you will need to file a Petition seeking permission from the court to relocate with the child(ren). The other parent will be given an opportunity to file a response to your Petition, and the Court will make a determination about whether the proposed relocation would be in the best interests of your child(ren). In making such a determination, the Court will consider the following factors:
- The circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation;
- The reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation;
- The history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child(ren), specifically whether a parent has failed or refused to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him/her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment;
- The educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- The presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- The anticipated impact of the relocation on the child;
- Whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocation occurs;
- The wishes of the child(ren), taking into account the child(ren)’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to relocation;
- Possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities appropriate to the parents’ resources and circumstances and the developmental level of the child;
- Minimization of the impairment to a parent-child relationship caused by a parent’s relocation; and
- Any other relevant factors bearing on the child(ren)’s best interests.
What if I don’t follow the proper procedures and/or fail to provide notice?
The court can consider a failure to comply with the procedural requirements of Section 609.2 of the IMDMA as a factor in determining whether or not the desired relocation is being made in good faith. Additionally, the court may order you to pay the reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs that result from your failure to comply with the necessary procedures.