Moving With Children After a Divorce. How New Laws Affect Your Plans.

Moving With Children After a Divorce. How New Laws Affect Your Plans.

Beginning in January of 2016, new divorce laws went into effect in Illinois, and many of these changes impact co-parenting. While it is still important to have an understanding of state laws before moving with children, it will now be easier for many families.

An Overview of Changes

Many changes to the Illinois Dissolution of Marriage Act went into effect on January 1, 2016. Quite a few of these changes were edits to the terminology used in divorce proceedings. For example, due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriage, Illinois divorce law no longer uses the terms husband or wife, now using the word spouse.

The waiting periods for divorce have now been changes, along with the grounds for divorce. Prior to 2016, there were several possible grounds for divorce, such as adultery, mental cruelty or drug addiction. Now irreconcilable differences is the only reason a couple may cite. No longer do couples need to live separately for two years prior to the initiation of a divorce due to irreconcilable differences. They may now move forward with a divorce immediately, as long as both parties agree.

Most of the terminology changes were meant to make the divorce process easier and less stressful for both parties, or to replace outdated terms.

Child Custody Changes

Another terminology change of the new divorce laws is the elimination of the term child custody, which is now referred to as allocation of parenting time and responsibility. In the past, it was often assumed that a mother would retain full custody of a child while a father had visitation rights. As the landscape of co-parenting has changed, this is now viewed differently by many parents and judges.

While a judge will still determine how much time that a parent will spend with their children, the words custody and visitation are meant to be less harsh. Along with parenting time, a judge may now also allocate how much parental decision making a parent has, changing the assumption that one parent will spend more time with the children and make the decisions regarding their health care, education or religion.

Relocation and Divorce Law

According to the old divorce law, a parent could move anywhere within the state of Illinois without getting court approval. If a parent wanted to move beyond state lines, court approval was required, even if that move was only a few miles away.

The new law allows parents to move across state lines, as long as that move is 25 miles or less, without seeking approval from the court. This change was made to prevent a parent from taking a child too far away, while preventing a time-consuming legal action for parents who want to make a simple move.

If a parent decides to move outside of the state of Illinois following a divorce, and this move is more than 25 miles, the court must still get involved. Because this move may affect parenting time schedules, the court must consider this move to be in the best interests of a child.

Though the changes to Illinois divorce law certainly make moving with children across state lines easier, there are still several factors to consider when a parent moves with their child, especially if this move is far away. A Dupage divorce lawyer can provide information regarding the requirements and rights of both parents when relocation is being considered.

The Legal Process for Relocation with a Child

When a relocation case is being considered in court, attorneys often must consult with psychologists, counselors and child welfare experts to determine what is in the best interest of a child. Both the relocating parent and the parent challenging the move may obtain legal representation in such as case.

During the relocation process, the moving parent must:

  • Notify the other parent regarding their intent to relocate
  • State the specific reasons for their relocation
  • Provide information on where they intend to move
  • Propose a revised parenting time schedule, if applicable

Prior to making a decision, the court will determine if parental relocation is in the best interest of the children involved. A number of factors will be considered, including the educational options available at each location, whether the extended family lives nearby, the involvement of children in local activities and any objections from the other parent.

If the court determines that a parental relocation is not in the best interest of a child, they may not approve the proposed relation. If the parental relocation is approved, the parental time may be changed, allowing for extended stays with one parent during vacations or holidays. The relocating parent may also be required to pay for any travel expenses required to adhere to the updated schedule. No matter the amount of parenting time an individual currently has, court modification may still be required.

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