Interstate and International Custody Issues

After a divorce is final, parents are not necessarily able to put everything behind them and make decisions without consulting a spouse. When children are involved, many post-decree issues still must be negotiated or determined through legal means. This includes issues that arise when either a custodial or non-custodial parent wants to relocate to another jurisdiction, either within the United States or abroad.

At Buffalo Grove Law Offices in Arlington Heights, Illinois, divorce lawyer Angela E. Peters helps clients protect their rights and interests in child custody proceedings that cross domestic or international borders.

Contact our office online or by telephone at (847) 772-8579 for more information on how we can help.

Relocation With A Child

  • In state relocation — The party who has residential custody may move within the state with the child, as long as there is no valid agreement preventing that move. The other party can go to court to ask that his or her visitation schedule be modified because of the move, or that driving obligations be modified.

  • Out of state relocation — The court may grant permission, before or after judgment, to any party having custody (sole or residential custody) of any minor child or children to take (remove) such child or children from Illinois whenever such approval is in the best interest of such child or children. The burden of proving that such removal is in the best interests of such child or children is on the party seeking the removal. When such removal is permitted, the court may require the party removing such child or children from Illinois to give reasonable security guaranteeing the return of such children.

  • Temporary removal (e.g., removal for a vacation) — Before a minor child is temporarily removed from Illinois, the parent responsible for the removal shall inform the other parent, or the other parent’s attorney, of the address and phone number where the child may be reached during the period of temporary removal, and the date on which the child shall return to Illinois.

The state of Illinois retains jurisdiction when the minor child is absent from the state pursuant to Section 609 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.


This stands for the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The UCCJEA or its predecessor (UCCJA) is the law in all states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The UCCJEA controls actions taken in interstate custody litigation. Child custody litigation presents special problems when the courts of more than one state become involved.

Hague Convention

For parents who seek the return of their children when the other parent has removed the children from the United States, one of the biggest areas of frustration is that courts in many other countries do not take into account the prior decisions made by courts in the United States. A custody order in the U.S. can be meaningless outside of the U.S.

  • Each country is a sovereign nation. Sovereign nations cannot interfere with each other’s legal systems, courts or law enforcement.

  • Usually, every country only has jurisdiction within its own borders and over people who are present within its borders.

  • Although court orders from other countries may be recognized in the U.S. under the UCCJEA (above), this is rarely true in reverse. That means that U.S. court orders are not generally recognized in other countries.

Twenty-three nations agreed to draft a treaty about international parental child abduction at the Hague Conference on Private International Law in 1976. The idea was that the nations would work together to solve abduction cases. Between 1976 and 1980, the U.S. was a driving force in preparing and negotiating the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In 1988, the Convention came into force for the U.S.

Please visit the Family Law Articles page of this website to read the article, “Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Divorce Decrees.”


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