Moving a child out-of-state after a divorce

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Child Custody on Friday, February 14, 2014.

When an Illinois couple divorces, they might not think about the future of their children if the custodial parent has a job or school offer, remarries or needs the support of family. While sometimes those life changes occur within the state, in other cases, they require the custodial parent to pack up and move, including the child. A judge will make the final decision on child custody matters, but laws vary according to state. Some states don’t make the custodial parent show proof as to their reasons for a move. Other states swing toward the protection of the non-custodial parent and tend to keep a child from leaving the state.

When making a final decision on relocating a child, the courts generally follow several guidelines. Their overall concern is the welfare and best interests of the child. They will consider why the custodial parent is moving and make sure that they are not making an adversarial decision that is just a vicious attempt to be vindictive towards an ex-spouse.

They will also look at how such a move would affect the child’s relationship with a parent, and are more likely to deny relocating when a child is not yet in school because a child can’t understand why they no longer see the non-custodial parent. On the other hand, if the move is within one to two hours of the present residence, the court would probably be more inclined to grant it as visitation would not be impacted as greatly. Additional considerations include a child’s wishes, the ability of the parents to maintain a healthy relationship with the child and possible upheaval in a child’s life.

Parents generally want to make the most positive choices for their children. A family lawyer might be able to help a custodial parent develop a list of reasons why relocation would be in the child’s best interests.

Source: The Huffington Post, “In the Child’s Best Interest: What It Means in Move-Away Cases“, Lisa Meyer, February 12, 2014