Following your divorce, you likely went through a period of adjustment as you and your ex worked through the allocation of parental responsibility in your court order or child custody settlement. Whether this happened years ago or fairly recently, your primary concern was the wellbeing of your children as they became accustomed to their new reality.
It is possible that this was also a time of struggle for you. Perhaps you were far from your own family or were having difficulties financially. These or other factors may have led you to the decision to relocate with the children to another city or outside Illinois altogether. However, even if you have legal and physical custody, you may face some roadblocks in your plan if your ex refuses to consent to the move.
Making your case
If your custody order or agreement does not have specific language about relocation, you would be wise to learn about your rights and the rights of your ex. Illinois law requires you to notify the other parent in writing at least 60 days before the date when you intend to move away with the children. This gives your ex a fair chance to respond to your plans, either by consenting to or challenging the relocation. You should be prepared to defend your cause by demonstrating certain factors to the court, such as:
- Your reasons for moving are concrete, such as having a definite job offer, and not vague, such as hoping to find a better job.
- You have a plan for allowing your ex a fair amount of parenting time based on the original court order.
- You have considered the cost and inconvenience of travel time in your suggestions for modifying the parenting schedule.
- You will have family nearby who can be a support to you and the children.
- The children will have the same or better educational and enrichment opportunities.
- The children are not opposed to the move.
You might think you can avoid these complications by taking the children and moving without notifying your ex or the court. However, this could end up being a very bad decision. At best, the courts may see this as acting in bad faith or contempt of your custody orders. At worst, you may face criminal charges or lose custody of your kids. Instead, you can rely on the counsel and guidance of an attorney who can help you build a strong case for relocating for the good of your family.