Parents get divorced. Then, Father filed a petition for leave to relocate with the parties’ 2 minor children. He wanted to move from Illinois to Virginia. The court allowed Father to move with the two children. Mother appealed.

Some additional detail from the divorce decree now. Mother had joint parental decision-making responsibilities. On every major parenting issue. The children lived with Mother 6 of 14 days. Mother was also allowed to see the children after school. On the remaining days of the school week until Father got home from work.

Mother lived two miles from the children. This allowed her to be involved with the children on an almost daily basis. It facilitated her ability to make joint decisions.

The relocation order would change all of that. Mother would see the children for approximately one-third of the year, as opposed to almost every day of the year. Her allotted parenting time would be largely limited to the summer.

Mother would not have any meaningful decision making responsibilities. Not about the children’s education, extracurricular activities, healthcare, or religion during the school year. Father would no longer have a say in whether the children were involved in educational, extracurricular, or religious activities during Mother’s summer parenting time.

The relocation statute states that the trial court “shall modify the parenting plan or allocation judgment in accordance with the child’s best interests” by considering 11 factors. The trial court did consider all of the factors.

However, the Appellate Court was not satisfied that Father had to move to find meaningful employment. He had been voluntarily underemployed in Illinois.

Father and the children would live with Father’s parents in Virginia. However, the parents were old and not as able to supervise the children when Father was at work. Also, the children had not seen their grandparents in many years.

The Appellate Court recognized that both parents had exercised their respective parental responsibilities and parenting time. Mother had been heavily involved in her children’s activities and schooling. It would be a long distance and with long gaps between Mother’s parenting time. Her influence and involvement in parental decision making during the school year would greatly be diminished or nonexistent under the relocation order.

The Trial Court’s finding that relocation was in best interest of children was against the manifest weight of evidence.

In re Marriage of Fatkin, 2018 IL App (3d) 170779

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