Sharing custody of children with a former spouse can be an already challenging adventure. Having to move has a way of raising the stakes considerably.

Illinois has recently updated relocation laws

The laws about divorced parents relocating with a child were more complex before 2016. They may have also encouraged conflict.

For example, a parent with sole custody of a child usually did not have to get court approval for “child removal” when moving somewhere within the state of Illinois.

So, the seven-hour drive from Galena to Cairo did not have to involve a court, but a judge had to consider a move from Galena to Dubuque.

Since then, Illinois updated its child relocation laws to be more like the laws of many other states with modern statutes governing such moves.

Whether the court needs to be involved and when

The parent must ask the court for permission to move with the child when moving more than 25 miles within Chicago-area counties, or more than 50 miles between place outside the metro, or more than 25 miles if crossing a state line. The parent needs to have custody or spend at least 50% of the time with the child to make the request.

They must tell the court at least 60 days in advance and give a copy to the other parent. If the parent cannot give that much notice, the court will take this into account, but it is important to understand that the court takes moving away with someone’s child very seriously, so playing by them is wise.

The court decides whether to allow the move

If the other parent does not object, the court is likely to approve the move. If the other parent would like to contest the move, the court will choose.

No matter the situation, the court must decide what is best for the child. It can and will look at many factors to understand what will matter to the child’s interest. Parents making any arguments for or against the move are wise to frame them in terms of the best interest of the child.