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IL family lawMany people decide to move after finalizing their divorce because starting over is done much easier in a new place surrounded by new people. However, divorces involving children are much more complicated than simply packing a suitcase and signing an apartment lease. Before getting divorced, many people do not realize how much control the court system can have over you and your familial decisions. Though you may want to start you and your child’s life over in a new place by relocating, there are many steps that must be taken before the house hunt can begin.

The Process

Moving from one area to another is stressful enough. Adding a divorce and child into the mix only further complicates things. Follow these three steps to get yourself on the path of relocation:

  1. Choosing your location: Moving from one house to another within the same area is not considered “relocation” under Illinois law. However, if you plan to move over 25 miles from the child’s current residence, your former spouse and courts may become involved in the process.
  2. Speaking with your ex-spouse: One of the first steps that must be taken is discussing your decision with your ex-spouse. Whether you have primary custody of your child or not, you are not legally allowed to relocate your child without your ex-spouse’s permission.
  3. Notify the court: The court and your ex-spouse must receive a written notice 60 days prior to relocating. If your spouse agrees to the relocation and signs it, no further court action is required; however, without this written permission, you will have to petition the court to move without your former spouse’s permission.

In the Eyes of the Court

If you failed to receive permission for your relocation by your former spouse, court action will be required. Rather than choosing between one parent or another, most courts make their decision based on what they think is best for the child. There are a number of factors judges consider including the following:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_child-custody.jpgThe parenting agreement you sign at the time of your divorce might not serve your child well until he or she becomes an adult.

A parenting plan is divided into two components: parenting time and parental responsibilities. You can modify one or many items in your parenting plan by filing paperwork with the court to alter it. If you and your former spouse agree to the change, this is an easy process. If you do not agree on the proposed changes, you will have to demonstrate to the court that circumstances in your lives have changed and the proposed new plan is in your child’s best interest.

Your Child’s Needs Change as He or She Grows

When your child is in elementary school, remaining in the same school after your divorce could be in his or her best interest because this means one less disruption. By high school, attending a school that has greater academic resources might be a higher priority, which can mean changing districts. In this case, consider altering your parenting plan so your child attends the school that can serve him or her better.

Changes in a Parent’s Household Impact the Child

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Illinois custody lawyerThe short answer is this: it depends on the child and the circumstances he or she is facing. Typically, Illinois courts permit adolescents age 14 and over to weigh in on their parenting time schedule. When a young man or woman expresses a well-developed opinion about his or her parenting time, the court will often consider it alongside other factors to determine an appropriate parenting schedule for him or her. But a child’s opinion cannot be the only thing the court considers, and it is not required to consider the child’s opinion if there are other, more significant, factors present.

Yes, but the Court Can Overrule Your Child’s Choice

When the court develops a parenting time arrangement, it creates the arrangement that it determines to be in the child’s best interest. In most cases, it is in the child’s best interest to maintain a consistent relationship with each parent. One parent could be deemed to be better equipped to care for the child, and when this happens, that parent generally has a greater share of the child’s parenting time.

When the court considers a child’s opinion about his or her parenting schedule, it must determine whether the child’s opinion was logically developed or if he or she is being impulsive. The court must also determine if one parent manipulated the child into voicing such a request in order to receive a larger share of parenting time or “punish” the other parent.

Factors the Court Considers When Determining a Parenting Schedule

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyerIllinois family courts tend to follow guidelines and case precedent when issuing divorce decrees, especially absent any input from the spouses themselves regarding disposition of issues like parenting time. However, sometimes a parenting plan will need to be modified, and it is important to realize that there are certain requirements that must be followed before a change will be permitted.

Family Court Has Authority

The most important thing to realize going in is that only family courts may make definitive adjustments to divorce decrees - you are welcome to work out an agreement with your spouse as to parenting time or support, but these agreements do not have the force of law. A court will not abide by them unless you have these unofficial agreements added to your decree. It matters, especially if you and your spouse have a tumultuous relationship, because if you become engaged in a dispute and refuse to abide by your arrangement.

In Illinois, however, the law holds that unless the parties agree or there is found to be an immediate reason in the best interests of the child, any modification of terms may not be made before two years have passed. The rationale behind this is that unless it is a demonstrable emergency, it can be harmful to a child’s emotional and mental well-being to undergo too many changes to their living situation, and the arrangement arrived at initially must be given time to work before it can be amended.

Modifications If You Cannot Agree

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