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Illinois Appellate Court Examines Child Relocation and Removal

Relocating a child when the parents share custody is almost always a difficult issue. This is because any relocation can quickly undermine the other parentâ€TMs custody rights and make it nearly impossible for that parent to continue having a viable relationship with the child. When a parent seeks to remove a child from the jurisdiction, the stakes can be even higher. 

In a recent Illinois case, the Appellate Court took the rare step of overturning the trial courtâ€TMs decision denying a motherâ€TMs petition to permanently relocate out of state for employment purposes and granting the father sole custody if she failed to return to Illinois within 30 days.Â

In deciding whether to permit a parent to relocate with a child, Illinois courts examine several factors, all of which are geared toward ascertaining the best interests of the child:Â

  • The purpose of the move and whether it will enhance the childâ€TMs quality of life
  • How the move may affect the noncustodial parentâ€TMs custody or visitation rights
  • The noncustodial parentâ€TMs reasons for opposing the relocationÂ

Normally, the decisions of trial judges on these matters are given great deference. Appellate courts assume that the trial judge is in the best position to weigh the evidence and evaluate the case. However, in this case the Appellate Court found that the trial courtâ€TMs determination was against the manifest weight of evidence. In the opinion of the Appellate Court, it simply was not in the childâ€TMs best interest to make the mother choose between custody of her child and stable and beneficial employment. This added factor, sometimes referred to as "if Mom's (or Dad's) Happy the child is happy" by itself is not determinative but is a significant added consideration.

Cases of this nature are something an effective Illinois child custody attorney can help you with if you are facing the relocation of a child. While child custody determinations are inherently subjective, confronting the judge with a solid appellate case can often turn the tide in your favor.

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