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Can I move the children out of state?

Can I move the children out of state?

The divorce case is over. Custody and visitation have been established. Now, something has come up that makes a move out of state either necessary or desirable.  But what about the children?  What about their visitation schedule with the other parent?  This is a common occurrence in post-judgment modification cases.  In Illinois, there is a statute that governs the removal of the children from the State of Illinois.  Like child custody, the removal may be granted when the move is in the best interests of the minor children.  Section 609 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states, in part, “The court may grant leave, before or after judgment, to any party having custody of any minor child or children to remove such child or children from Illinois whenever such approval is in the best interests of such child or children.  The burden of proving that such removal is in the best interests of such child or children is on the party seeking the removal.  When such removal is permitted, the court may require the party removing such child or children from Illinois to give reasonable security guaranteeing the return of such children.”

In 1988, the Illinois Supreme Court addressed the removal issue in In re the Marriage of Eckert.  In the Eckert case, the Court set forth five specific factors that a court should consider when presented with a removal case:

  1. What is the likelihood that the move will enhance the general quality of life for both the custodial parent and the children?
  2. What are the motives of the custodial parent in seeking to move?  Is the removal merely a ruse intended to defeat or frustrate the visitation or parenting time of the non-custodial or non-residential parent?
  3. What are the motives of the non-custodial or non-residential parent in resisting the removal?
  4. It is in the best interest of the child to have a healthy and close relationship with both parents, so the visitation rights of the non-custodial or non-residential parent should be carefully considered by the court.
  5. Can a realistic and reasonable visitation schedule be reached if the move is allowed?

The court will look at where it is you want to move.  The court will look at why you want to move.  The court will look into the impact on the other parent’s access to the child.  The court will look into your relationship with the child’s non-custodial or non-residential parent.

Before considering a move, run your facts through the five Eckert factors listed above and try to gauge what a reasonable non-biased judge may do.

If you have any questions about removal of the minor children from the State of Illinois, feel free to call Roger W. Stelk at (847) 506-7330.

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