If you are thinking about filing for divorce at the start of the New Year, if you plan to separate from your spouse, or if you have recently accepted a new job, you have likely been thinking about the potential impact that moving will have on your child. When you are divorced, moving mid-year with a teenager can present significant challenges. Those challenges can be legal ones—concerning Illinois law on relocation—as well as psychological or emotional challenges associated with a change in residence and a change in school for a teenager. If you are considering relocating with your teenager mid-year, it is important to understand how relocation works under Illinois law as well as to learn more about the potential effects on your child.
When there is an allocation judgment in place that allocates parenting time, or when parents currently are operating under the terms of a parenting plan, then it is essential to understand how relocation is handled under Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/609.2). According to the statute, “a parent’s relocation constitutes a substantial change in circumstances,” meaning that it is one possible reason to modify a parenting plan or an allocation judgment. However, your intended relocation may not actually be classified a “relocation” under the law.
You only need to modify parenting time if one of the following is true of your relocation:
If your intended move is indeed a relocation under the law, then you will need to do the following:
Even if the legal process of relocation goes relatively smoothly, it is also important to consider the emotional and psychological effects of relocating with your teen mid-year. As an article in Psych Central explains, most people believe that moving mid-year, or moving at all, when kids are in high school is a bad idea, yet that conventional wisdom simply is not always practical.
Parents should know, however, that moving with a teenager who is at the end of his or her high school career can have serious academic, social, and psychological consequences. In short, younger kids tend to respond better to moves than do older kids. For some teenagers, it might make sense for the child to remain with the other parent in Chicago in order to finish high school. This is particularly true for kids who like their current school and are excelling. For kids who are struggling in high school academically or are being bullied, a move could be a welcome change of environment.
Keep in mind that, when you ask the court to modify your parenting plan or allocation judgment, the court will make that decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.
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