Families relocate now more than ever before. The modern improvements in technology and transportation make it easier for families to move and keep in touch after relocating. Many divorced couples will choose to do this to help themselves move on from their previous marriage. However, while adults have the right to choose when and where they move, the court has a say in all relocation cases involving children. There are three common situations in which court approval may need to be obtained for child relocation: when a parent moves at the time of the divorce, when a parent moves after the divorce, and when an unwed parent chooses to relocate. Married or not, adults who share children together must get permission from the court if their planned move could potentially affect their existing child custody and parenting time agreements or their child's relationship with the other parent.
What Factors Will the Court Review?
When a parent petitions the court for permission to relocate, or when a parent seeks to prohibit their former partner from moving with their child, the court will determine whether the planned move is in the child's best interests. In most cases, a judge will seek to protect both parents’ rights to spend time with their child. For most children, having both parents in their lives is beneficial, and this idea can affect the court’s ruling on relocation. However, if a child has been exposed to domestic abuse, or if parents continue to argue regularly, relocation may be the best thing that will allow the child to flourish in a conflict-free environment.
A judge may use a variety of tactics to determine what is in a child's best interests, including:
Questioning Motives: A judge may consider the character of the parent and the purpose of the request to move. Some parents will try to relocate out of spite for their ex, while others will have a genuine reason behind the request. Various questions will be asked about the motives, such as: How and when did the idea of the move first come up? Whose idea was this move? If the parent has remarried, what does their spouse say about the move?
Involvement: Both parents’ involvement in the child’s life will be analyzed to see how much the move will affect the child. In families where the non-custodial parent spends little or no time with the child, the relocation may not be as life-altering for the child. However, if the non-custodial parent is fully involved in their child's life, there may be some deliberation to determine the potential negative impact on the parent-child relationship. The court will ask questions about each parent’s role in the child’s life. These may include: How many extracurricular activities did you attend? How many did your ex-spouse attend? What is your child’s favorite subject in school? Who takes the child to medical appointments?
Non-Custodial Questioning: A judge will likely spend time during a relocation case to assess the non-custodial parent’s investment in his or her child's life, especially if the custodial parent is the primary caregiver. In many cases, a non-custodial parent is likely to become less involved in the child’s life after a relocation, since he or she would have to make an extra effort to travel and spend time with the child. A judge will likely ask this parent about how frequently he or she talks to or sees the child and how this would change following the planned move.
Contact an Orland Park Child Relocation Lawyer
For most parents, their child is the most important part of their life. Those parents wishing to relocate may see this as a fresh start for their child, whereas a non-custodial parent may view these changes as a violation of their parental rights. At Anderson & Associates, P.C., we work with parents on both sides of these disputes, and we seek to ensure that children's best interests are protected. If you are planning to relocate, or if you want to make sure your ex does not move your child away from you, contact our Tinley Park family law attorneys at 708-226-9904 for a free consultation.