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After a divorce, it is not uncommon for people to want to relocate, to leave bad memories behind and hopefully make new ones. However, many do not realize that they cannot simply pick up and move, especially if they have children. In Illinois, there are laws that must be complied with before a court will allow you to move too far away from the site of your marital home.


Before the sweeping changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that took effect in January 2016, a parent essentially could not move out of state without court permission, and permission was not always forthcoming. The prevailing standard by which a court would review such requests was (and still is) the best interests of the child, and the standard list of factors did (and do) apply, such as the child’s relationships in their current situation, the parent’s motives for moving, and the feasibility of visitation.

However, under that standard, there were still inequities. For example, under the old law, a parent did not need the court’s permission to move anywhere in Illinois, even though it might be several hours away, while permission would be required if the parent sought to move even a mile over the Wisconsin state line. This resulted in unfavorable results at times when the best interests of the child were arguably not served.

Current Law

The shift in the child relocation standards is noticeable. Currently, if permission is required to relocate, written notice will be filed by the parent seeking to move, giving the other parent the planned date, time, and distance, at least 60 days in advance. If the non-moving parent consents, they simply sign the notice. If they do not, then the matter proceeds to petitions filed with the relevant court to settle the issue, using the best interests of the child standard as before.

The important distinction to keep in mind with the new law is that a parent no longer needs to seek permission to relocate if the new home will be less than 25 miles away from the current residence and is in the Chicagoland counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will or even out of state. The new home can also be less than 50 miles away for any other Illinois county. This is more advantageous in many respects. For instance, now if a parent wishes to move from Cook County to Pope County, near Missouri, they must request permission. However, if they wish to move from Lake County over the Wisconsin state line, the parent may not need to do so.

Seek Experienced Legal Help

People relocate for many reasons, as a normal part of life. However, it can be a balancing act to ensure that everyone’s interests, especially your children’s, are represented fairly. The dedicated Elgin and St. Charles, IL family lawyers at Pucci Pirtle are happy to help answer any questions you may have, and suggest where to go from here. Contact us today at 847-426-1866 to set up a free consultation.