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Moving for work? Divorced parents need to jump extra hurdles

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In the business world, your success may lead to promotions or new job offers. These opportunities can mean all kinds of exciting possibilities for your future, but if you need to relocate to pursue them, you might find yourself facing a whole mess of complications.

When you’re divorced, Illinois law can limit your ability to move your kids to a new home. If you plan to move to another city, you’ll likely need to file for a modification of your parenting plan. That means you’ll need to reach an agreement with the other parent, or if you can’t reach an agreement, you may find yourself going back to court.

You dont always need to file for a modification

Illinois only requires parents to file for new parenting plans before they move if:

  • They hold the larger share of parenting time
  • Both parents share equal parenting time

You may also not need to file if you’re only moving a short distance, even if that move would take you out of state. Under the law, you only need to file if you’re moving:

  • To a new Illinois home that’s more than 25 miles from your current residence in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will county
  • To a new Illinois home that’s more than 50 miles from your current residence in any other Illinois county
  • To a new, out-of-state home that’s more than 25 miles from your current residence

If you move out-of-state—but stay within the 25-mile limit—you don’t need to change your parenting plan, and Illinois law says that Illinois is still your child’s home state.

Can you and your former spouse agree to a new parenting plan?

In the best-case scenario, your former spouse will receive the news of your job offer with tremendous enthusiasm and agree to work out a new parenting plan. You’ll discuss the details in a friendly fashion, have your lawyers review it and present the new deal to the court without an angry word between you.

Best-case scenarios are rare, of course, but even if you expect some tensions, you may still try to work through the changes in mediation.

What happens when we cant agree?

If the other parent contests your relocation, you could find yourself headed back to court and deep into the middle of another custody battle. The courts will look at your circumstances to decide what’s in the best interests of your children, and you’ll likely want to show that the move will lead to improvements in your children’s:

  • Education
  • Health and medical interests
  • Neighborhood and community
  • Proximity to friends and relatives
  • Activities and social opportunities

Basically, the court will take a second look at the whole custody picture, and your former spouse can challenge any part of it. This means that before you go to court, you’ll want to find evidence and arguments that show you’re considering your children’s best interests.

Taking the leap

If you’re presented with an exciting opportunity to move forward with your life, you can’t let your apprehensions hold you back. It may be more complicated for divorced parents to move than for other people, but a knowledgeable attorney can give you a better sense of your choices and prepare you for any legal challenges. Allow yourself to be excited by the possibilities.

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