“Removal cases are difficult. This is especially so when
neither parent demonstrates bad faith and both have
assiduously exercised their parental responsibilities and
parenting time. No matter the outcome, one party’s life will
be affected detrimentally.”
– The honorable James Baber, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.
Not only are “removal” or “relocation” (past and current legal terminology used to refer to cases in which a parent wishes to move with their child) difficult because one of the party’s life will be affected detrimentally, these cases are difficult for Court’s to decide because sometimes the known is so much more appealing than the unknown. Often times Judges err on the side of caution and determine that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” as some people say. If the children are doing well, have good relationships with both parents and extended family in the area, what is the compelling reason for the move and how does it impact the child(ren)? How does forcing a parent to stay where they do not wish to be impact the child(ren)? Undoubtedly, these are tough questions.
- a change of residence from the child’s current primary residence located in the county of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will to a new residence within this State that is more than 25 miles from the child’s current residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service;
- a change of residence from the child’s current primary residence located in a county not listed in paragraph (1) to a new residence within this State that is more than 50 miles from the child’s current primary residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service; or
- a change of residence from the child’s current primary residence to a residence outside the borders of this State that is more than 25 miles from the current primary residence, as measured by an Internet mapping service.
A determination of the best interests of the child cannot be reduced to a simple bright-line test, but rather must be made on a case-by-case basis, depending, to a great extent, upon the circumstances of each case. The court should consider the proposed move in terms of likelihood for enhancing the general quality of life for both the parent and the child(ren). To make the difficult decision, the trial Court considers the following when examining the potential harm and/or benefit of the move to the child:
- the circumstances and reasons for the intended relocation;
- the reasons, if any, why a parent is objecting to the intended relocation;
- the history and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child and specifically whether a parent has substantially failed or refused to exercise the parental responsibilities allocated to him or her under the parenting plan or allocation judgment;
- the educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- the presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location;
- the anticipated impact of the relocationon the child;
- whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable allocation of parental responsibilities between all parents if the relocationoccurs;
- the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to relocation;
- possible arrangements for the exercise of parental responsibilities appropriate to the parents’ resources and circumstances and the developmental level of the child;
- minimization of the impairment to a parent-child relationship caused by a parent’s relocation; and
- any other relevant factors bearing on the child’s best interests.
The burden of proof is on the parent seeking to relocate to establish that the move, considering its possible impact on parenting time with the other parent, as well as all other relevant factors, would be in the child’s best interest.