What are the rules about removing a child from Illinois?
Custodial parents that want to move out of state with their minor child (or temporarily remove a minor child from the state) must get court permission first. Specifically, custodial parents must file a “petition” (legal paperwork) requesting a court order allowing them to move with the minor child; they must also prove to the court that the move (or removal) is in the child’s best interests.
When a court allows a parent to remove a child on a temporary basis, the judge may also require that parent to provide some sort of reasonable security to guarantee the child’s return.
What factors do courts consider when determining a petition for removal?
There is no simple bright-line test that courts can use in order to determine what is in the child’s best interests. Instead, judges must make these types of custody decisions on a case-by-case basis, depending largely upon the circumstances of each case and all evidence that might be relevant to the decision.
There are, however, several factors courts should consider when deciding whether an out-of-state move is appropriate, including the following:
- the likelihood that the move will enhance the quality of life for the custodial parent and child
- the motives of the parent seeking to move the child
- the motives of the non-custodial parent fighting the move
- the current visitation schedule
- whether a realistic and reasonable visitation schedule can be reached if the move is allowed
- the effect of said removal on the non-custodial parent’s time and visitation with the minor child
- any potential harm to the child if the move will impair the non-custodial parent’s involvement with the child
- any inability to reach a reasonable parenting schedule or visitation schedule, and
- the overall effect of the non-custodial parent not being in the child’s life on a day-to-day basis.
The weight a judge will give to each factor is different in every case; some factors may be incredibly important in one case, but completely irrelevant in another.
As stated above, the parent seeking to move the minor child must demonstrate that the move is in the child’s best interest. Obviously, this can be a difficult burden, but not an impossible one and should be carefully considered prior to filing a petition for removal.
If you’re considering moving out of state with your child, or if you’re a non-custodial parent opposing a move-away request, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney for advice on how to proceed.
For the statute governing removal of minor children from the State of Illinois, see 750 ILCS 5/609(a).
For a complete description of the factors courts should consider when faced with a request to move a child out of state, see In re Marriage of Eckert, 119 Ill. 2d 316 (1988).
Updated by: Lina Guillen, Attorney