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Illinois custody attorneyLife rarely keeps us in one place forever. You might be offered a new job opportunity, get accepted to your dream school, meet a new partner, or face financial and personal conditions that make moving away not just an option, but the ideal course of action for you. Before you had children, decisions like this were easy to make. With children, they are far more challenging. And when you have a parenting plan for your child, moving can require court approval.

Not all proposed moves require court approval. A parent can move across town or within a small radius without getting permission from his or her former partner or the court. It is only when a proposed move is far enough that it would require altering an existing parenting plan that the parent cannot simply pack up and go.

Determine How Far You Can Move without Permission

In Illinois, where a parent currently resides determines how far they can move without his or her former partner’s consent or court approval. For parents in Cook, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, Lake, and Will counties, this limit is 25 miles from their current residence. For parents in all other Illinois counties, the limit if 50 miles. These limits apply to inter and intrastate moves, except for when a move is both out of Illinois and at least 25 miles from the child’s current residence.

Get Your Former Partner’s Consent to the Move

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois custody lawyerThere are countless aspects surrounding the divorce experience that parents are faced with when raising children throughout the separation process. Studies show that children are especially prone to the negative psychological effects that accompany the end of their parents’ marriage, due to the fact that they are still developing and learning to process - and cope with - rapidly changing emotions and circumstances. It is understandable, then, how something as anxiety-inducing as moving during or shortly after divorce can trigger a significant psychological struggle for children.

Moving and Divorce: A Psychological Toll

Recent divorce law changes in the state of Illinois now allow the primary residential parent to relocate with their child after divorce, as long as the move is made within a 25-mile radius. Because of this new guideline, that 25-mile radius can actually mean a jump over the state line, depending on which county you live in. Whether you are moving one neighborhood away or using up those permissible 25 miles, studies indicate that moving after divorce can be unsettling for children and can reap long-term psychological effects.

What Studies Suggest

The American Psychological Association (APA) reported studies that were conducted among students from an array of relocation scenarios, including subsets of students who experienced their primary (custodial) parent moving after divorce, and students who experienced no parental relocation at all. In general, the students of divorced families who relocated on some level were found to suffer more distress and perceive their parents in a less favorable light over the long term. Additionally, the students of divorced parents who relocated also experienced less life satisfaction and rated their physical and mental health poorly over time. They also felt more anger and hostility within their interpersonal relationships.

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Illinois family law attorney, Illinois child custody lawyerThe list of responsibilities to be addressed following a family’s separation is vast. When you have decided to divorce, everything from your finances, routines, and overall lifestyle must be re-evaluated to accommodate the circumstances surrounding your post-divorce life. One important area that requires a significant learning curve for both spouses is parenting. If you and your spouse share a child, the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation) must be addressed, including a thorough parenting plan that ensures a healthy transition for the child.

The Relocation Factor

If either parent is planning to relocate shortly after the divorce, both parents are presented with a new set of challenges as the family wades through the transition. Separation is already rife with obstacles and requires multiple emotional, mental, and physical adjustments for everyone involved, but parental relocation can add additional stress to the mix. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports a study from the Journal of Family Psychology that found the following regarding the effects of relocation after divorce on children:

  • Children are significantly less well-off after divorce when their parent moves more than a one-hour drive away;
  • Children from families in which one parent relocates after divorce typically receive less financial support from their parents and worry more about the lack of support;
  • Feelings of greater hostility in interpersonal relationships were reported in children from divorced families who experienced the relocation of a parent afterward. There were also reports of more overall distress from the divorce experience;
  • General dissatisfaction in personal, physical, and emotional adjustments was reported; and
  • Children of parents who relocated after divorce were found to have more negative perceptions of their parents, with less favorable views of them as role models and reliable sources for emotional support.

The authors responsible for these studies emphasized that additional research is still needed, pointing out the possibility that other factors may also contribute to the findings, such as any existing, unresolved pre-move conflict between the parents.

If you are in the beginning stages of the divorce process and have discussed potential relocation after the separation with your spouse, speak with a knowledgeable Kane County divorce attorney right away to set your family up for a seamless transition. Call Shaw Family Law, P.C. at 630-584-5550 for a personal consultation.

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