Divorced parents often encounter issues with their custody orders. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes parents must make one-off adjustments to a custody schedule due to unforeseen circumstances. In other cases, parents must petition Bloomington, IL, family court to make more expansive adjustments to their custody orders. One of the most common issues to spur child custody modification proceedings is relocation. When a parent obligated to a custody order intends to relocate, they will likely need to adjust their custody order in some fashion.

Relocation can be a very sensitive issue for parents with child custody orders. When a custodial parent wants to move and retain custody of their child, this could mean altering the core terms of their agreement, and the other parent may disagree with this. Ultimately, you should expect a problematic modification process between you and your co-parent if you intend to relocate while maintaining your custody rights. You may also need to prepare for relocation hearings if your child’s other parent intends to relocate, but you do not believe the move would suit your child’s best interests.

What Is Family Court Order Modification?

When an individual is subject to a civil court judgment or a criminal court verdict, and they disagree with the outcome, the only real recourse available to them is to appeal the court’s decision to a higher court, hoping for the higher court to overturn the lower court’s decision based on legal precedent or the revealing of evidence that should have been considered in the lower court’s determination. Family law is unique, and the family court system of Bloomington, IL, recognizes that life is unpredictable. Many different issues can arise that interfere with an existing family court order or the ability of a parent to fulfill the obligations set forth for them by a family court order.

The modification process is a streamlined alternative to an appeal. For example, when a parent or individual subject to a family court order experiences a notable change in their circumstances that leaves the current terms of their family court order untenable, they have the right to file a petition for modification with the Bloomington, IL, family court. Once the court receives their petition, they will set a hearing date, allowing the petitioner to speak on the issue.

A family court order modification petition must include a complete outline of the desired change or changes and a thorough explanation of the petitioner’s reason for requesting the change. If the court determines the petition has merit, a hearing is scheduled, and all parties affected by the change, if approved, must attend and speak on the issue. In some cases, petitions for modification go unchallenged when they are reasonable, and the other party recognizes a clear need for the desired changes. Relocation-related changes, however, are typically more contentious, especially when approval of one parent’s request for modification would mean the other parent would lose any portion of their custody or visitation time with their children.

Petitioning for Modification When You Want to Relocate

If you want to move and have a child custody order, it’s essential to determine how severely the move would affect your current custody terms. For example, if you are moving to the other side of Bloomington from where you currently reside, this may not influence your custody agreement much. This is because the other parent would likely have minimal if any objections to a proposed move along these lines. However, a longer distance move would likely influence your current agreement.

The flexibility you have in relocating with a custody order largely depends on the nature of your custody arrangement. For example, if you have sole custody of your child and their other parent only has visitation rights, there would be little room for them to argue against the move unless they were able to prove that the move would not suit your child’s best interests, or if you are unable to prove that the move would serve their best interests. The Bloomington, IL, family court would also likely scrutinize any proposed move that places an unreasonable burden on the other parent’s ability to exercise their custody and visitation rights.

If you want to move with your child, you must satisfy one of several possible conditions with your petition:

  • You must prove that the relocation would not interfere with your coparent’s ability to exercise their custody or visitation rights or place any unreasonable burden on them doing so.
  • You must prove that your proposed relocation would suit your child’s best interests and that your continued custody rights also serve their best interests.
  • You must show that you are willing to renegotiate your custody terms so that you can relocate without interfering with the other parent’s custody rights.
  • You must be willing to surrender a portion of your custody rights that would enable you to relocate without interfering with the child’s life or the co-parent’s custody rights.

You may want to move to accept a new job offer that would enable you to earn more income for your family, or you might want to relocate closer to your extended family. Whatever the case may be, you should consult your Bloomington, IL, family law attorney to help you draft a compelling argument in support of your relocation.

Fighting a Co-parent’s Petition for Relocation

If your child’s other parent notifies you that they intend to relocate and you believe that doing so would interfere with your ability to exercise your custody rights, it’s vital to consult an attorney as soon as possible to determine the best method of addressing this difficult situation. Your attorney will first review your current custody terms to help you evaluate your negotiating position. For example, if you currently split custody with your child’s other parent, you could approach the situation in a few possible ways:

  • You could focus on the fact that their relocation would prevent you from exercising your custody rights per your current custody order.
  • You could explain how the proposed move does not suit your child’s best interests.
  • You could counter the other parent’s proposal by petitioning to assume more physical custody of your child, ensuring they remain with you while the other parent relocates.

If you have minimal custody rights or only have visitation rights with your child, your focus may be limited to showing the court that the proposed change does not suit your child’s best interests. Ultimately, this can be a challenging situation to navigate without an experienced attorney on your side. Therefore, when you are faced with a proposed relocation, whether it would involve you moving or your child’s other parent desiring to move with your child, consult a Bloomington family law attorney as soon as possible to determine your best options for approaching this situation.