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What to Do If Your Former Spouse Relocated Your Child Without Permission

 Posted on September 23, 2022 in Child Custody

DuPage County family law attorneyThe parenting plan that you and your spouse establish or that the court judicially establishes on your behalf, effectively has the force of law. A parenting time schedule is grounded in a formal court order. All parties are required to act in compliance with court orders and may face legal sanctions for noncompliance, including improper relocation. This force extends to any temporary orders that may have been placed during the time period in which the divorce is in process.

If your former spouse—or current spouse if your divorce has yet to be resolved—has removed your child from the local area without seeking permission from the court, they could be charged with contempt of court. If concealment of the child in violation of any court order lasts for a period of greater than 15 days, the offending parent has opened themself up to criminal abduction charges as well. Should you discern that the other parent has removed your child from the local area without a court order, it would be prudent to discuss your rights and potential enforcement actions with an attorney. 

Differentiating Between Relocation and Moving

Used in the context of parental relocation, “relocating” and “moving” are not synonymous. A parent must inform the court and other parent of a move, but they need not seek prior permission. In the legal vernacular, relocation refers to removing the child from a familiar community and moving a great distance. Per the specific legal definition, a parent “relocates” the child if they live in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, or Will County and move a distance greater than 25 miles from their previous home. A parent residing in another Illinois County relocates if they move more than 50 miles from their previous home, while a parent presently in residence within Illinois but geographically close to a state border may move up to 25 miles, including across state lines, without relocating. 

Steps an Attorney Can Take Following Impermissible Parental Relocation

Parents most frequently prioritize the return of their child and going forward, the other parent’s adherence to an established parenting plan. Steps an attorney may take include: 

  • Motion for modification - It may be appropriate to introduce a motion requesting the court to grant a change in the parenting time schedule. Generally, such modifications are in favor of the non-abductive parent. 
  • Contempt - Depending on the circumstances, a parent who violates a court order by removing the child may be held in contempt or even prosecuted for parental abduction. 
  • Attorney’s fees - As it is the fault of the relocating parent that such proceedings have become necessary, the court may order that parent to pay the attorney’s fees and court costs of the other parent. 

Unapproved parental relocation can vary in severity and impact. An attorney can advise you as to the legal mechanisms that may be used to correct this action. 

Call a DuPage County Parental Relocation Attorney

Hensley Sendek Law is experienced in aiding parents whose children have been relocated without a court order. Our skilled Winfield parental relocation lawyers can assist in enforcing or modifying an existing child custody order. Call 630-358-9029 for a free consultation. 




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