Now that the economy is picking up, more and more people are offered jobs in different areas of the United States. For one reason or another, Illinois was the second most popular state to move away from last year. The opportunity to accept a position in another state creates a unique problem for McHenry County divorcees with minor children. How do you take your kids with you when you move? Hopefully, this article will attempt to shed some light on the steps you need to take and the risks you face by seeking the divorce court’s permission to leave the state with your children.
The right to permanently remove children from the State of Illinois is governed by statute.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) governs most scenarios that arise relating to your children after your divorce. Section 609 of the IMDMA governs the situation when a party wants to remove the minor children from the State. It provides, in full, that:
(a) The court may grant leave, before or after judgment, to any party having custody of any minor child or children to remove such child or children from Illinois whenever such approval is in the best interests of such child or children. The burden of proving that such removal is in the best interests of such child or children is on the party seeking the removal. When such removal is permitted, the court may require the party removing such child or children from Illinois to give reasonable security guaranteeing the return of such children.
(b) Before a minor child is temporarily removed from Illinois, the parent responsible for the removal shall inform the other parent, or the other parent’s attorney, of the address and telephone number where the child may be reached during the period of temporary removal, and the date on which the child shall return to Illinois.
The State of Illinois retains jurisdiction when the minor child is absent from the State pursuant to this subsection.
(c) The court may not use the availability of electronic communication as a factor in support of a removal of a child by the custodial parent from Illinois.
Here are the highlights:
- It may seem obvious, but you cannot seek to remove your children from the state without gaining custody of the child first. If you are a non-custodial parent with visitation rights, you do not have the right to remove your kids from the state.
- That said, the opposite is not true. If you have sole custody of your children and your ex merely has visitation, you do not have an absolute right to take the kids with you to move out of the state.
- If you desire to permanently remove your children from the state, you first have to ask the court’s permission.
- The court can only grant you permission to take the kids with you after you show that it is in the “best interests” your children.
- You have to notify your ex before you remove the kids from the state on a temporary basis (e.g. vacation, summer camp).
Retain a lawyer and prepare for a fight.
Removal petitions are fought hard because the non-removing parent loses significant access to their children, and these petitions are heavily scrutinized by judges. If you are seeking to remove your children from McHenry County or the State of Illinois, you need to retain an attorney to have the best possible odds of succeeding.