Parties divorced in Illinois. Mother was granted leave to move to New York with the minor child. The removal and visitation order contained a forum-selection clause.  The parties had agreed on it as part of the agreement for a mother to move with the child to New York.  It required that jurisdiction remains with the State of Illinois.  Father had visitation rights in Chicago and New York. 

According to the mother, the child began exhibiting emotional problems with respect to her visitation arrangement with her father.   The mother took the child to see a clinical social worker in New York.

The mother filed a motion to decline jurisdiction and transfer adjudication of visitation issues to the State of New York (motion to transfer). In addition to highlighting the child’s emotional issues, the mother alleged that Illinois was an inconvenient forum in which to determine the visitation issues.  She argued that the circuit court should elect to decline jurisdiction over these issues pursuant to the inconvenient forum provision of the UCCJEA (750 ILCS 36/207(West 2004)).

Father filed an emergency petition for an evaluation of the child.  He argued that, rather than he being required to travel to New York, the child should be required to travel to Chicago for any evaluation. The circuit court agreed.  The court temporarily stopped the father’s visitation with the child.  It appointed a doctor to perform the evaluation in Chicago.

Afterward, the father filed a petition for visitation to resume. The petition was based on the Chicago doctor’s report.  That report stated that there was no reason that parenting time should not occur between the father and the child.  The Illinois circuit court ordered that the father be allowed his regularly scheduled parenting time during the child’s summer vacation.

Father then filed an answer to the mother’s motion to transfer the case to New York.  He argued that the State of Illinois was the appropriate forum.  He alleged that the mother was actively interfering with his visitation with the child and not properly discouraging the child’s emotional outbursts.

The Illinois circuit court found that the balance of factors enumerated in the inconvenient-forum provision of the UCCJEA weighed in favor of New York as a more appropriate forum for determining the visitation issues.  Father appealed. 

The Appellate Court agreed with the circuit court of Illinois to move the case to New York.  New York would be better situated to decide the issues expeditiously because allowing a New York court to address these issues would present the least amount of disruption to the child’s daily life.

Horgan vs. Romans, 366 Ill.App.3d 180

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