Divorced? Don’t Plan a Move with the Kids until you Understand Illinois’ new laws!

Many people mistakenly think that if their divorce decree awarded them the majority of parenting time, or if the kids live with them, that it is okay to move. Think again. Most people don’t even give it a second thought in terms of their divorce, unless they are planning on moving outside of the State of Illinois.  Up until 2016, moving with the kids anywhere within the state was well within one’s rights. Granted, depending on the distance, visitation times may have needed an adjustment, but moving wasn’t a big deal.

Effective in the year 2016, the law now imposes new restrictions on how far a divorced person can move, if they live with their minor children.  In July of 2015, our Governor Bruce Rauner signed new laws which completely overhauled Illinois’ existing divorce laws.  A part of that further restricts moving to a new home with the kids.

Up until the 2016  law, it was okay for a parent to move anywhere within the State of Illinois with the kids, without permission from the other parent, regardless of the distance.  Someone living in Waukegan, IL was not free to move a short drive across the border to Beloit, Wisconsin but could move to Carbondale, IL (which is way south).  If the residential parent wanted to move outside of Illinois and did not have permission from the other parent, the court then had to decide whether or not the move was in the best interests of the child.

The new law restricts moves within the state.  Permission or court approval must now be given for any move that is more than 25 miles away, for residents of Chicago and the six surrounding counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, Lake and Will.  In all other counties in Illinois, the restriction only applies to moves that are over 50 miles away. Moves which exceed the distances for which permission is not needed are also now considered a “substantial change in circumstances” for purposes of modifying  a child custody agreement. 

Do not wait until you are ready to move! If you are even thinking about moving, the process should begin as soon as possible, since court procedures are often incredibly slow.  To speed things up, I encourage you to consider mediation and see if you can work towards a mutually acceptable agreement. 

What if we just can't agree on the move with the kids?

Many people are aware of the legal restrictions in Illinois on moving with the children during or after a divorce, but want to do it anyway. This is a problem when the other parent does not agree to the move. We have mediated the issue for divorced couples before, to help them reach an agreement before having to spend the money to go to court. In fact, this is the most frequently mediated issue that I see in my mediation practice. Sometimes a new agreement can be reached in mediation when neither side wants to risk going to court and are looking for a compromise, perhaps related to driving time or a shift in the parenting plan which still gives the other parent plenty of time with the kids. Many divorce decrees in Illinois actually require mediation before either party can go to court and ask for permission to move.  We can help- call to speak with attorney Cadiz about the mediation process and whether or not you may be a good candidate. Mediation sessions are available at our Schaumburg and Itasca offices. 


Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.