Mother filed a Petition for Removal with the children to live in New Jersey. Her annual salary would increase to $475,000.00.
The court noted that the home in which Mother and the children would live in New Jersey would be very similar to their home in Illinois. Mother’s commute would be very similar. The court noted that no information was presented on the academic programs in New Jersey for the three non-high-school-aged children.
The court concluded that academic life for the children would not improve by a move to New Jersey. Mother’s salary did increase substantially with her move. But, the court noted that the salary she earned in Illinois adequately provided for the children.
It is true that removal to New Jersey would place the residency of the children closer to Mother’s parents. But, grandmother had traveled to Illinois to watch over the grandchildren during Mother’s extended trips. In Illinois, the children were closer to their aunts and uncles on their Father’s side of the family.
The Trial Court found that Mother did not show that removal would be in the children’s best interest. There was no convincing evidence their quality of life would improve.
The court concluded that the move would increase petitioner’s control over the children’s lives. It could marginalize Father’s relationship with them. Father wanted to maintain a close relationship with his children. This weighed against removal. Reasonable visitation could not be maintained if they moved with Mother.
The 1988 Eckert case states the factors to be considered for removal. (1) the likelihood the move will enhance the quality of life for both the custodial parent and the children. (2) the motives of the custodial parent in seeking removal and whether it is merely a ruse to frustrate visitation. (3) the motives of the noncustodial parent in resisting removal. (4) the effect of the move on the noncustodial parent’s visitation rights. And (5) whether a realistic and reasonable visitation schedule can be reached if the court allows removal.
The Appellate Court agreed with the Trial Court’s decision.
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