Moving the primary residence of children after a divorce can increase feelings of instability and loss, but it can also provide a chance for new beginnings and opportunities. If you are planning to relocate with your children, you must follow certain requirements in Illinois law for relocating a child’s home any significant distance. A Springfield modification attorney can review your custody arrangement and parenting plan and determine your options for relocation within state law requirements.

Divorce affects everyone in a family, and it is especially difficult for children. Every child reacts to divorce differently, and it can affect their friendships, day-to-day life, and their emotional and mental well-being. After a divorce, children may be able to remain in the home they’re used to with their primary custodial parent, or their custodial parent may have to move. In either case, a lot in a child’s life has changed. Following a divorce with another relocation only adds to these changes.

Requirements in Illinois for Relocation

A parent is allowed to relocate with their child if they are the primary custodial parent or have the majority of parenting time. Either parent can relocate if they have equal parenting time. Because the relocation of a parent will impact the parenting time of the other parent and the specifics of the parenting plan, it is considered a substantial change in circumstances.

If you are planning to relocate with your children, you must receive consent from the other parent. This means providing written notice to that parent and filing a copy of that notice with the court. The notice should be given a minimum of 60 days prior to relocation or as soon as it is practical to do so. It must include the following:

  1. When the relocation is expected to occur
  2. Where the new residence is located and its address, if known
  3. How long the relocation will last if it is not a permanent move

Failing to provide this notice will affect a court’s decision on the move if it goes to court. Relocation does not always have to be decided by the court. Once the other parent receives the notice, they can consent to the move by signing the notice and filing it with the court, and the relocation can continue. However, if the parent does not do this and objects to the relocation, then the case must proceed to the court.

The court will then determine if the relocation is in the child’s interests based on information like why the parent wants to move and the effect it will have on the child.

The Effect of Relocation on Children

A child needs stability, especially after a stressful and destabilizing event like divorce. This is one reason why courts tend to prefer that the primary custodial parent remains with the children in the marital home, although this may change based on a family’s unique situation.

If relocation is necessary and done in the interests of the children, it’s still important to understand what they are losing. If your child has to change schools, they may lose all their close friendships, expected routines, and general known community. This can result in the loss of family, friends, and home within a very short time period, which can affect a child’s emotional and psychological well-being. This can negatively affect how they react to their parents and how they perform academically.

It’s important to keep whatever is possible the same in a child’s life during relocation and to adequately prepare them prior to relocating. Give your kids time to adjust, and help them maintain friendships and routines throughout the relocation.


Q: How Far Can I Move From My Child’s Father in Illinois?

A: How far you can move away from your child’s father depends on the parental rights that each of you has. If paternity has been established, and the father has parental rights, then moving with your child more than 25 to 50 miles or over state lines must be done with the father’s or the court’s approval. If no paternity has been established, then the father does not have equal parental rights or responsibilities for your child, so relocation can happen without the father’s approval.

Q: Can I Move Out With My Child Before a Divorce in Illinois?

A: In most cases, you cannot move out with your child before a divorce in Illinois. Both spouses have equal parental rights over their children, and the court should decide on temporary custody orders while the divorce is ongoing. For a parent to move with children more than a certain distance requires the other parent’s consent or the approval of the court. However, there are some situations, such as if a child is in danger, where relocation without this notice is accepted by the court due to good cause.

Q: At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in Illinois?

A: The age that a child can legally decide who they want to live with in Illinois is 18 when they are no longer a child. Prior to the child turning 18, they can express a preference, but this preference does not have to be accepted by the court. The closer a child is to 18, and the more mature and well-reasoned their preferences seem to be, the more likely the court will consider their wishes. The child’s interests are still the priority.

Q: Can a Parent Take a Child Out of State Without the Other Parent’s Consent in Illinois?

A: A parent can take a child out of state for travel, assuming there is nothing in their specific custody agreement that prohibits this. However, if a parent is relocating a child’s home out-of-state, then they require the other parent’s consent. If the other parent does not consent to an out-of-state move, then the parent who wishes to relocate must petition the court for approval. Although parental consent is not typically required for vacations and travel, it is often beneficial to communicate intentions anyway.

Contact Stange Law Firm in Springfield, Illinois

Relocating may be a necessity, for opportunities or for safety, but the interests of the children must be considered. A skilled custody and modification attorney can review the situation and represent parents in court, whether they want to relocate or prevent a relocation. Contact Stange Law Firm today to see how we can help.