Are Single Parents Chained to Illinois?

Single Parent
Have you ever seen the commercial for Southwest Airlines where the ending words are, “You are now free to move about the country?” A wonderful thought for vacationers! After listening to this advertisement four or five times, it reminded me of a recent Illinois Family Law case in which a divorced mother of two young daughters (10 years old and 8 years old) recently wanted to move from Highland Park, Illinois to Seattle, Washington. 

In 1991, mom and dad entered into an amicable divorce, agreeing to share the allocation of parental responsibilities of their two daughters. The two children lived with mom on a daily basis, and visited with dad often, sometimes three or four times each week.

In 1994, mom remarried, and in 1995, gave birth to her third child, the first with her new husband. In 1997, mom’s second husband received an offer for a job promotion. He had been earning $37,000.00 annually while employed in Skokie, Illinois. His promotion offered him an increased salary ($44,000.00 annually), plus the likelihood of earning a $200,000.00 bonus if sales continued as planned.

The biological father of the two daughters continued to enjoy a close relationship with his children, visited them every week, and sometimes up to four days per week. Dad paid substantial child support every week, and never missed parenting time.

If you were the judge, would you allow mom to move with her second husband and three kids (two from her prior marriage) to Seattle, Washington?

Under Illinois law, a parent having custody of his or her children that wishes to leave the State must file a petition in court seeking permission to move out of state. This process is called filing a Petition for Removal. When an Illinois court conducts its hearing on the custodial parent’s Petition for Removal, it is required to take into account the following five elements:

  1. What is the likelihood that the move to another city outside the State of Illinois will enhance the general quality of life of the custodial parent, as well as the quality of life of the minor children?
  2. Whether or not the custodial parent’s motives in seeking removal to another city and state are sincere, or simply intended as a ruse to frustrate the non-custodial parenting time with his children?
  3. What are the non-custodial parent’s motives in resisting his former spouse’s Petition for Removal?
  4. Has the non-custodial parent exercised his or her parenting time schedule diligently?
  5. Once they move out of state is allowed, can a reasonable and realistic parenting time schedule still be obtained?

I wonder how many people reading this article are asking themselves whether or not the custodial parent, in this case, was given permission to move to Seattle, Washington. Keep reading.

Imagine being the judge having to decide the fate of these children’s lives when a Petition for Removal cannot be settled between the parents. How many witnesses does each parent need to call? Where will the children be better served? Is the custodial parent entitled to move with her new spouse to a distant location that would allow her to improve the quality of her life and her family? After all, the non-custodial parent is “free to move about the country.”

What about the father who has seen his children every week for the last six years? If Removal is allowed, how will dad’s relationship with his children change? What kind of compromise could you forge as a judge?

In the case described above, the judge decided that the mother’s reasons for wanting to move two thousand miles away were insufficient to overcome the father’s valid reasons for resisting Removal. Dad had seen the kids three to four days every week, and if his children were allowed to move to Seattle, Washington, even though he might be permitted to visit with the children for months at a time during the Summer, the judge decided this was not adequate to replace the current parenting time arrangements with his children.

Sadly, cases such as the one described above take place in Cook County, Lake County, and DuPage County often. The moral of this story is… when you have children, don’t get divorced!

Contact The Law Office of Micheal P. Doman and a Chicago Divorce Attorney can help you determine the right course of action for your case.

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