We are wrapping up our discussion of upcoming changes to child custody laws, specifically the laws regarding the relocation of a custodial parent. The changes are not minor tweaks. Rather, the Illinois General Assembly has completely rewritten the laws that relate to divorce, custody, visitation and support.
The new law, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016, presents a new paradigm for everyone involved in family law matters. For couples considering separation or divorce, the new law should reflect a more modern understanding of family structure and a process that requires less involvement of the court.
When Gwyneth Paltrow announced that she and her husband were “consciously uncoupling,” critics said that “consciously uncoupling” sounded a little out there, almost pretentious. That is, however, the process that the new law strives for. There will be no mention of “custody,” for example. The new law contemplates “parental responsibility allocation.”
Still, as we said in our last post, there are times when court involvement is appropriate and necessary. If the parents cannot agree on a revised parenting plan, the court will decide the matter based on the their arguments and the child’s best interests. The types of things the court will consider include the reason for the relocation and the reason for the other parent’s objection, each parent’s history of abiding by the parenting plan and the impact on the child’s life (especially with regard to educational opportunities and relationships with extended family). The court will also be looking for evidence that the move is a ruse designed to impair the other parent’s relationship with the child.
Collaboration usually has much better results than confrontation. Couples may not know where to start, though, especially when a parent’s distance from a child is part of the disagreement. Even in the most amicable divorces, there are times when the guidance of a family law attorney is necessary. This is one of them.