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The new Illinois relocation laws

In November, our firm detailed some recent and important changes to Illinois family law. Specifically, we explained some of the adjustments to child custody under the Illinois Marriage and Dissociation of Marriage Act. In this post, we would like to share some recent amendments to removal or relocation laws, which will go into effect on January 1, 2016.

Current removal law

In Illinois, child removal refers to the legal process when a custodial parent "removes" or moves his or her child out of state on a temporary or permanent basis. Currently, the law requires the parent to obtain permission from the noncustodial parent or the court before doing so. If the parent without physical custody does not agree to removal, the court may overrule the refusal if the move is deemed within the best interests of the child.

Under the current law, the parent with physical custody can move anywhere within the state - regardless of distance. As a result, the custodial parent has the legal right to relocate several hundred miles away, as long as the new location is within the boundaries of Illinois. This is true with little recourse for the noncustodial parent. While this is legally permitted, ironically, the custodial parent may not take short hop over the border under the existing law - even if the new location is 10 miles away from the previous residence.

The new law

Under the new law, a standard will exist for all parental relocations that do not require approval. The new law does away with the language regarding child removal, and replaces it with definitions of relocation. This new standard focuses on the actual and tangible distance from the previous dwelling of the custodial parent. This law seems to make more sense. A custodial parent of a child may relocate, without consent, if any of the following is true:

  • The parent with physical custody relocates within the state, up to 25 miles from the original residence, and the former residence is in Kane, Cook, Lake, DuPage, Will or McHenry Counties.
  • For all other counties, the parent relocates up to 50 miles from the previous home, within Illinois.
  • The parent with physical custody moves up to 25 miles from the prior home, regardless of the county or state of the new location.

If the custodial parent moves out of state, Illinois will retain jurisdiction over the matter, providing the new location be within 25 miles of the prior residence. Relocations outside the aforementioned scenarios require the other parent's permission or court approval.

If you would like to learn more about relocation laws, please visit our family site.

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