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How Can I Stop My Ex From Moving My Children Away From Me?

Posted on in Dealing With Your Ex

Naperville fathers' rights lawyer for parental relocationAs a divorced dad, you may struggle with the fact that you get to spend less time with your children that you did while you were married. Even if you share custody and have a significant amount of parenting time, you may not get as much time with your kids as you would like, and you will probably do everything you can to make the most of the time you do have with them. Because of this, you will want to make sure you address any issues that could affect your relationship with your children.

One concern that many dads face is the possibility that their ex will decide to move to a new home in a different city or state. If your kids’ mom is planning to move a significant distance away from you, this could limit the amount of time you are able to spend with them, especially if you end up spending a large amount of your parenting time transporting your children between your homes. You will most likely want to prevent major changes like this so you can continue being a primary parental figure for your kids.

Fortunately, you do have legal options in this type of situation, and you can take steps to protect your parental rights. With the help of a DuPage County family law attorney, you can file a petition in court seeking to prevent a move by your ex-spouse, and you can take steps to show why this relocation would not be in your children’s best interests. 

Legal Issues Surrounding Parental Relocation

A divorced parent is usually allowed to move to a new home within their local area or a short distance away from their current residence. However, they will need to follow certain procedures if they want to make a more significant move. While different states have different laws addressing these situations, a move of a certain distance will be considered “parental relocation,” which is sometimes referred to as “child removal.” A parent who plans to relocate will usually need to receive approval from the court.

Here in Illinois, parental relocation requirements apply in most cases where a parent’s new home will be at least 25 miles away from their current home. If a parent has the majority of the parenting time, or if the parents share equal amounts of time with their children, the parent who plans to move must provide notification to the other parent at least 60 days before the date of the planned move, or at the earliest possible date for moves that will take place within 60 days. A copy of this notification must also be set to the family court presiding over the couple’s case.

In most cases involving parental relocation, a couple’s parenting plan will need to be modified. Parenting time schedules may need to be updated, new arrangements may need to be made for how children will be transported between parents’ homes, or other terms of the agreement may need to be adjusted to address the changes resulting from the move. A judge will only approve of these modifications if they decide that the changes are in the children’s best interests.

Contesting a Child Removal Request

You may be concerned that your ex is planning to move based on the desire to harm your relationship with your children or limit the amount of time you have with them. Even if she has legitimate reasons for wanting to move, such as to pursue a new job opportunity, to begin a relationship with a new partner, or to be closer to her family, you may still be able to take steps to prevent the move and ensure that you will be able to continue having the relationship with your children that they deserve.

When contesting your ex’s parental relocation request, you will need to show why the planned move would not be in your children’s best interests. There are multiple different issues that may be considered by the judge in your case, including:

  • Reasons for moving and objections to the move - Each parent’s motivations may be examined to determine whether they are acting in their children’s best interests. If your ex’s primary reason for moving is because it would benefit her rather than your kids, her relocation request may be denied. Likewise, your objections to a relocation will likely be given more weight if they are based on concerns about what is best for your children. 

  • Parent/child relationships - A judge may look at your and your ex’s past history of caring for your children and spending time with them, including whether you or your ex have not followed your parenting agreement or have given up opportunities for parenting time. Ideally, the judge will want to make sure that any modifications to your parenting plan will minimize the negative impact on relationships between parents and children. By showing that you have been closely involved in your kids’ lives, you can argue against any changes that would affect your relationship with them.

  • Educational opportunities - The court may look at schools, educational programs, or other opportunities available to your children at their current home and in the area where your ex plans to relocate. You may argue that leaving their current school, their teachers, and their friends and starting over in a new location and school district would not be beneficial for them.

  • Extended family members - Your children may have close relationships with other members of your or your ex’s families, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. A judge may consider whether they will be closer to these family members at their current home and at the proposed new location. You may be able to show that moving away would cause your kids to spend less time with extended family members than they currently do.

  • Children’s wishes - Depending on your kids’ ages and their ability to express their wishes, the court may consider whether they want to move or not. If they are worried that moving would mean they will spend less time with you, or if they have other concerns about how their lives will be affected by these major changes, the judge may decide that the move would not be in their best interests.

Ultimately, your ability to prevent your ex from moving away with your kids will depend on whether you can show that the modifications to your parenting plan will have a negative impact on your relationship with them. To demonstrate why a relocation would not be in your children’s best interests, you should be sure to work with an experienced Naperville parental relocation attorney. The lawyers at Goostree Law Group can provide the representation you need and help you to continue being the dad your kids deserve.

 Goostree, Tricia D.

About the Author:

Tricia D. Goostree knew she wanted to be an attorney when she was 10 years old. After being accepted to the John Marshall Law School with a Dean’s Scholarship, Tricia added excellent writing skills to her love of working in the courtroom. Tricia is the founder and managing partner of the Goostree Law Group, P.C. in DuPage County, Illinois. www.napervillefamilydivorcelaw.com/

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