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Get Approval or Stay Nearby: Child Removal Laws Revamped for 2016

child removal, parental relocation, Illinois Family LawyerSeveral weeks ago, a post on this blog mentioned that pending legislation in Springfield was poised to bring significant changes to family law statutes throughout Illinois. More recently, the measure was approved by Governor Bruce Rauner and is scheduled to become fully effective on January 1, 2016. While the law takes aim at a number of family-related concerns, including divorce and child custody, it provides a major overhaul to the current law regarding parental relocation and removing a child from Illinois when subject to a custody order.

Seemingly Unbalanced Current Laws

Illinois law, for a number of years, has included statutory provisions regarding child removal. Under the law, child removal referred to a custodial parent taking his or her child out of Illinois on a permanent or temporary basis. To move permanently out of state, the law currently requires a parent with custody of the child to obtain the permission of the other parent or the approval of the court. The court may override the other parent’s refusal if the move is found to be in child’s best interest.

There is no provision in the law, however, preventing a custodial parent from making an in-state move, regardless of physical distance. A medium-sized state, Illinois is, at its most extreme points, about 390 miles long from north to south and about 210 miles wide from east to west, encompassing nearly 58,000 square miles. As such, a custodial parent has the legal freedom to move several hours and hundreds of miles away, with little recourse available to the other parent, while a ten-minute move into Wisconsin or Indiana can be fairly easily blocked.

New Guidelines for Relocation

The new law will establish a standard for all parental relocations based primarily upon the distance from the previous residence. Under the new guidelines a parent with physical custody of a child may move with the child without consent or approval:

  • Within Illinois, up to 25 miles, if the previous residence is in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will Counties;
  • Within Illinois, up to 50 miles, if the previous residence is in any other county; and
  • Outside of Illinois, up to 25 miles from the previous residence, regardless of county.

Illinois family courts will retain jurisdiction over the case when a parent chooses to move out of state, but within 25 miles. All other relocations with a child require the consent of the other parent or the approval of the court. The considerations for approval will be similar to those under the existing law.

If you are considering a move in the next few months, it is important to understand how the new law may affect your decision. Contact an experienced family law attorney in St. Charles for more information. At Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., our team is prepared to help you make the best decisions for your future and to do so in compliance with all applicable statutes. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule your complimentary consultation today.

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