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Do I need to update my custody plan if I move out of state?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2023 | Family Law |

Negotiating a fair way to share parental rights and responsibilities is often one of the biggest challenges that parents face when they separate or divorce. Illinois law always makes what is best for the children the main priority but also seeks to uphold the rights of the parents in the family. A custody order is meant to reflect the current circumstances of the family and could easily become outdated as the situation evolves.

Those who are rebuilding their lives after a divorce may start new relationships, look for new housing or even move into a different stage in their careers. Any of those personal developments could result in someone needing to relocate. Maybe they need to move several counties away to take over a new branch opening at the company where they work. Perhaps they have developed a very strong connection with a new romantic partner who lives in Wisconsin.

A major move will inevitably have an impact on someone’s relationship with their children and ability to co-parent. Can a parent who shares custody in Illinois relocate while their children are still minors, or will they need to change their custody order first?

Custody modifications are necessary when people relocate

Although parents can theoretically make whatever choice is necessary to support themselves and their family, sometimes the Illinois family courts require formal notice or may limit someone’s options. In a relocation scenario, a parent will need to communicate with the courts ahead of time and provide the other parent with advance notice of their intent to move.

Whether they want the children to travel with them and how significant the distance will be will play a major role in how the other parent responds. When parents cooperate about relocations, the process of securing an uncontested modification can be relatively quick and simple. If there is a disagreement, then the matter will go to court. A judge will review the relocation request and the existing custody order to determine what would be in the best interest of the children. Sometimes, they will allow parents to relocate and take the children. Other times, the relocation will force a major change in the division of parental responsibilities.

Recognizing that cooperation often leads to better outcomes could help those hoping to navigate an upcoming relocation despite sharing custody of minor children in Illinois. Seeking legal guidance is often the best way to start moving forward in this regard.