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Kane County family law attorneysToday’s world is, in many ways, more connected than ever before. Thanks to the rise of digital and online technology, it has never been easier to look for new employment or educational opportunities that may exist far from your current home. For some people, it is also relatively easy to pick up and move to a new city or state in search of a better life, but this is not the case for everyone. If you are divorced, separated, or unmarried and you and your child’s other parent share parental responsibilities, moving to a new area can be rather complicated.

How Far Is Too Far?

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that any move that qualifies as a “relocation” must be approved by the court in advance. A relocation is any move by a parent with half or more of the parenting time with the child that exceeds a certain radius from the current home. If you currently live in Kane County—or Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, or Will County—an in-state move of more than 25 miles is a relocation. If you currently live in any other county, a relocation is any in-state move of over 50 miles. Finally, if you live anywhere in Illinois and move more than 25 miles to a new out-of-state home, the move is considered a relocation.

Why Is Approval Needed?

The law requires you to obtain the court’s permission for a relocation to ensure that the rights of your child’s other parent are not being unduly compromised. The other parent—in most cases—has the right to reasonable parenting time with your child and the new geographical distance can present major challenges. Obtaining the court’s approval can be relatively easy if the other parent does not object to your proposed relocation. If you are able to negotiate a new parenting time plan that allows for a continued relationship between the other parent and your child, the move will likely be allowed to proceed. If the other parent does not agree and you still wish to pursue the relocation, you will need to convince the court that move serves your child’s best interests.

Kane County relocation attorneysIn past generations, it was not terribly uncommon for a person to grow up in a given area and to spend the vast majority of his or her life in that same area. This was especially true in financially healthy regions where jobs and educational opportunities were readily available. Today, however, is a different story, as a people are much more likely to move greater distances than ever before. Some move for employment reasons, others for education, and still others just for a change in scenery. While moving is rarely easy, most adults have the freedom to relocate whenever they choose, but for those who are subject to an Illinois parenting plan, there are limits on how far a move can be.

Who Is Affected?

The state of Illinois is invested in looking out for the best interests of children—especially those whose parents have divorced or were never married. Thus, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) provides specific guidance for parents who wish to move to a new home. The IMDMA states that a parent who has the majority of the parenting time with their child or shares parenting time equally with the other parent must adhere to certain rules when considering a move.

Geneva family law attorneyIn today’s world, it is not uncommon for a person to seek a fresh start by moving to a new city—sometimes even across the country. This may be particularly appealing after a divorce, as a new beginning may be cathartic in many ways. While the average American has the freedom to move wherever he or she wants at any time, such is not always the case for a divorced parent who shares parenting time of a child with a former spouse.

Rules for Relocating

The state of Illinois has established laws designed to help keep both parents active in the life of their child, even after a divorce. Regarding moving to a new city or state, Illinois law is clear. A parent with at least half of the parenting time of a child may only move with the child within a certain radius of his or her current home before the move is considered a “relocation.” A relocation requires the consent of the other parent or the approval of the court.

relocation, Illinois law, Geneva family law attorneyFollowing a divorce or separation, it is not uncommon for one or both former partners to move to a new city or town. Some may be seeking a fresh start or a change of pace, while others may be moving closer to family members and existing support systems. When the divorce or separation involves children, however, the situation can be much more complex, as any significant move is likely to impact custody and visitation arrangements. As you look toward a possible relocation, it is important to understand the steps you may need to take to remain in compliance with applicable laws.

Existing Provisions in the Law

Currently in Illinois, a custodial parent is statutorily permitted to move with his or her child anywhere within the state. While such a move may have a direct effect on an existing custody or visitation agreement, there is nothing in the law to prevent it. Conversely, moving with child to a new location outside of Illinois requires the consent of the other parent or the overriding approval of the court. In granting approval, the court must determine the move to be in good faith and in the overall best interest of the child.

For years, the Chafin family lived very far apart.  Jeffrey Chafin, 41, is a sergeant 1st class for the US Army and as a result is constantly moving around the globe depending on his deployment.  His wife, Lynne Chafin is a Scottish national who had lived with the couple’s daughter from 2007 to 2010 in her homeland.  At that time, Lynne and her daughter came to stay with Jeffrey in Madison, AL to repair what was left of their marriage.  They ended up divorcing anyway.

Lynne eventually overstayed her visa and returned to Scotland.  At that same time, a state judge in Alabama awarded custody of the child to Sergeant Chafin. The custody battle has been raging for two years since that time.  Upon review by a US district judge, the case was overturned.  Judge Igne Prytz Johnson cited the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child abduction and explained that Scotland was the girl’s “habitual residence.”  A habitual residence is legal terminology which means someone’s home for a long duration in the past.

When Jeffrey appealed the district court’s decision, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that it was too late to give Jeffrey any justice.  The child was already in Scotland and out of the jurisdiction of the court.  Now, Jeffrey is looking to the Supreme Court to overturn the Hague Convention which tries to maintain stability for children and protect them from being wrongfully abducted.

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