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Leaving town with the kids? New law means fewer parents in court

In our Feb. 23, 2015, post, The challenges associated with child custody relocation cases, we wrote about what divorced parents in Illinois must do if one parent wants to relocate. On January 1, 2016, the law will change significantly.

The current law only applies if the child of divorced or separated parents will be moving out of Illinois. The parent cannot move without the court's approval, and the court's approval hinges on whether the move is in the best interest of the child.

The parent must persuade the court that the move will improve not just the child's quality of life, but the parent's as well. The court must believe that the parent is not moving solely to frustrate the other parent's access to the child and must be convinced that there is a feasible visitation plan that does not encroach on the non-custodial parent's rights or, especially if the move takes the child far away, the noncustodial parent's involvement in the child's life.

It is worth noting that the process for unmarried parents is slightly different.

The new law takes a new approach to custody. In fact, the terms "custody" and "custodial parent" are gone. Now, the law refers to "parenting time," and the relocation process applies to the parent who has the majority of parenting time or to either parent if parenting time is divided equally.

The process does not have to involve the court. First, the new law imposes new geographical restrictions. Currently, a parent may move a child anywhere within Illinois without asking the court for permission. On Jan. 1, parents will not need the court's permission if they live outside of Cook County and plan to move within a 50-mile radius. Cook County residents will be limited to 25-mile distances.

Second, the new law streamlines the process if there is no objection to the move. We'll explain in our next post.

Sources:

16A Illinois Law and Practice: Divorce; Dissolution of Marriage

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