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Kevin O'Flaherty

Facing a move with your child and unsure when Illinois law requires court approval? Whether planning an in-state or out-of-state move, Illinois child relocation law dictates that court approval is mandated once you exceed a 25 or 50-mile threshold. Our article breaks down everything you need to know about these requirements, including the pivotal factors the court considers, without overwhelming you with legal jargon.

Key Takeaways

  • Court approval is required for moves over 25 miles within specified counties, over 50 miles elsewhere in Illinois, or that cross state lines.
  • The relocating parent must give the other parent 60 days' written notice with details such as the move date, new address, and move duration.
  • If there's an objection or no agreement, the relocating parent must seek court permission, with the decision focused on the child's best interests.

When Does a Parent Have to Seek Court Approval to Move With a Child?

Illinois law regarding relocating with a child is governed by Section 609.2 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). The IMDMA provides indicates when a parent seeking to move with a child must seek court approval, and when this approval is not required.  

A parent who wishes to relocate with a child does not have to seek court approval in the following situations:

  • If the child’s primary residence is in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will County, court approval is not required for a move of 25 miles or less, regardless of whether state lines are crossed.
  • If the child’s primary residence is in a different county, court approval is not required for a move of 50 miles or less.  However, if state lines are crossed and the move is more than 25 miles from the primary residence, court approval is required.  
  • The other parent agrees to the relocation by signing the notice discussed below.  

Can a Parent With Shared Parenting Time Relocate With a Child?

The IMDMA provides that a parent who has either the majority of parenting time or shared parenting time may seek to relocate with the child.  Shared parenting time means that each parent has at least 146 overnights per year with the child.  

What Notice Has to Be Given in Illinois When a Parent Relocates With a Child?

A parent who seeks to relocate with the child more than 25 miles away (if they live in one of the collar counties mentioned above) or more than 50 miles away (or to a different state and more than 25 miles away) if they do not live in one of those counties must provide at least 60 days’ written notice to the other parent.  If 60 days’ notice is not possible, notice must be given at the earliest possible date.  

The notice of relocation must contain the following information:

  • The intended date of the move;
  • The address of the new residence; and
  • The length of the time the relocation will last (if not indefinite or permanent).

If the other parent signs the notice, the parent seeking relocation can move with the child without court approval.  In either case, the notice must be filed with the clerk of the court with jurisdiction of the case involving the child.  

What Happens if a Parent Seeking to Relocate With a Child Fails to Give Proper Notice to the Other Parent?

If the parent seeking to relocate fails to comply with the above notice requirements, the court may consider the failure to do so as a factor in determining whether the parent’s relocation is in good faith.  This means that failure to comply with the notice may lead to the court denying permission for the move and making the parent seeking relocation liable for the other parent’s court costs and attorney fees related to the failure to comply with the notice. In some cases, this can be considered parental kidnapping.

How to Seek Court Approval to Move With a Child

If court approval is required based on the distance of the move (as discussed above) and the other parent fails to sign the notice or otherwise agree to the move, the parent seeking to move with the child must file a petition seeking permission to relocate with the court.  

Once this petition is filed, the clerk will schedule a hearing date.  Notice of the time and location of the hearing date must be properly provided to the other parent.

What Factors Do Courts Consider When Determining Whether to Allow a Parent to Relocate With a Child?

The court uses the “best interest of the child” as its standard in determining whether to allow a parent to relocate with the child.  Courts are instructed by the IMDMA to weigh the following factors in determining the best interests of the child:

  • The circumstances of and reasons for the move;
  • The reasons that the other parent objects to the relocation;
  • The history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child, and specifically whether a parent failed to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment;
  • The differences in educational opportunities between the two locations;
  • The presence or absence of extended family at each location;
  • The anticipated impact of relocation on the child;
  • Whether the court will be able to reasonably allocate parental responsibilities between the parents if relocation occurs;
  • The wishes of the child (this is a larger factor as the child gets older);
  • Whether a parent-child relationship will be impaired by the move, and whether this impairment can be minimized; and
  • Any other factors that are relevant to the child’s best interest.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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