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‘How To’ Win The Right To Relocate a Minor Child


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Who’s thinking about moving this year? My wife and I seem to ALWAYS be flirting with the thought of getting out of the northwest suburban, condominium that we’ve been living-in for 13+ years now. It sort of feels like the ‘American Way’ and a ton of stuff I see on TV is basically marketing related to buying a new home and remodeling, etc. Plus, we enjoy a lot of day trips and we hangout a lot in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Beverly Shores, Indiana. And, when we relocate there’s a pretty good chance we go to one of those 2 communities (yep, like being on the lake & both have commuter rail service to get into Chicago). And both Kenosha and Beverly Shores are MORE than 25 miles from our current residence.

And there’s the rub (not for me personally)…if you have a child or children and an “Ex” you must get his/her or the Court’s approval to relocate your child/children more than 25-miles from the child’s current residence.

Here’s the 1-2 step process:

  1. Provide Relocation Notice. Must provide notice of the relocation at least 60-days prior to the move and file the notice with the Court. Here’s a blank form notice and this must be done prior to any attempt to force the issue via the Court. Obviously if the other parent agrees, it’s one and done and easy. I have just this week spoken to a former client of ours on this point, he and his former wife are on good terms and his relocation actually makes the mom’s parenting time more convenient for her so she’s in agreement, she signed-off on the notice, and I’ll file it in court just to 100% protect our client.
  2. Get Court Approval to Relocate (assuming the other parent doesn’t agree per step #1). So now I’m filing a Petition for Relocation and if there’s not a negotiated option via court order, then, ultimately some 6-months out a Judge makes a decision after hearing.

How Does a Court Decide a Relocation Case?

Here’s the fundamental balance:

***How does the new location benefit the child & the majority time parent (community/financial/support system) vs. the move’s negative impact on the non-majority time parent’s relationship with the kid.***

On the majority time parent’s side of a case, I generally find that these are driven by a new job/career, a new spouse/significant other, or a ‘support system’/return to extend family scenarios. And I have used each of these scenarios/facts to win relocation cases. Just this week I got a court order that allows a client to relocate her son with her to Texas from Chicago. And the basic facts are that the mom was a recent transplant to Chicago and now that she and the father have broken things off and her son is an infant it’s critical for her to have extended family around to help her raise her less than 1-year-old son and/or it’s free childcare that allows her to work.

On the non-majority time parent’s side of things, the key defenses and they are VERY EFFECTIVE are level of parenting involvement plus financial support. If there’s a very involved non-majority time parent who is current in his financial obligations, it’s hard to get a court to allow a kid to be moved way and relocated. One of my most memorable wins during my career occurred helping a guy stop his ex-wife from moving his 2 sons to California to be with her new husband and the BIG ISSUES that won it for him were he was seeing his sons consistently 3 days a week and was 100% current on child support. Rarely is a judge going to take that other parent out of his children’s life IF that parent is actually involved in consistent parenting.


The ‘New’ 25-Mile Scenario

Prior to 2016, relocation cases arose when a parent wanted to remove a child outside of Illinois so many of my big trials on the issue were long distance relocations like 500 miles or more. Now, I’m surely seeing more and more of the 30/35 mile relocations from say Chicago to Naperville or Gurnee, for example. Personally I expect many more relocations to be granted under the new law because really how impacted is the non-majority parent’s time impacted by these short moves. That said, the underlying law remains the same and these are tough cases to win!

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