The answer to this question is that it depends on the circumstances in which the other parent wants to take the child out of state. It’s understandable to be concerned; there can be concerns about the other parent not returning with the child, whether the child will be safe, or missing out on important events such as school activities or family holidays. Having a team of attorneys who are experienced in child custody matters can be invaluable for you in these situations. Every case is unique, but here are some issues and legalities to understand.

What’s Required as Part of Child Custody When It Comes to Traveling with the Child?

Usually, Illinois courts will specify that if one parent wants to travel out of state or out of the country with the child, the other parent needs to provide permission, often in writing. It doesn’t matter if custody is sole or joint as long as the noncustodial parent has visitation rights.

What Happens if the Other Parent Wants to Take the Child Our of the Country?

Not only is it likely that the parent not traveling needs to provide written permission for the other parent to travel internationally with the child, but there are also documents that both parents must fill out and sign. One document is the child’s passport, for which both parents must apply on the child’s behalf. Once the child is 16, they can sign their passport themselves. Depending on which country the parent wants to travel to, there may be age restrictions that would prevent the child from traveling there too.

What if Our Parenting Plan Doesn’t Specify Travel Out of State?

In some cases, parents develop a parenting plan that includes specific instances in which either parent may take the child out of state. In those situations, referring to the plan and abiding by the agreement is usually the best course unless you have reason to believe the other parent may be trying to either go against the plan or intends to take the child and not return (see below for more information). Both parents must agree in writing if the plan doesn’t specify travel permissions.

What Should I Do if I Think the Other Parent Intends to Take Our Child Out of State and Not Return?

This is a serious situation and accusation and shouldn’t be taken lightly because if it happens, it becomes a crime known as parental kidnapping. If you have reason to suspect the other parent plans to do this, contact us right away. There are legal steps that can be taken to help prevent this. If the child has already been taken out of state and the other parent refuses to return, we can help get the legal processes in motion to return the child to you. You have rights under the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act. Our team of knowledgeable family law attorneys knows what needs to be done. The sooner we’re involved, the better.

What if the Other Parent Wants to Move Out of State?

The court can’t stop the other parent from moving to another state, but it’s not a given that they can take the child with them, even if they have sole custody. If the parent who wants to move has custody or visitation for at least half the time, they have the option to request the child go with them.

The parent must first provide 60 days written notice to the other parent that they want to move. Then they must petition the court for a process known as relocation. The court will consider what’s in the child’s best interests when determining whether or not to accept the move. As soon as you receive notice of the relocation intent, call us for a case evaluation to determine what you can do to stop the relocation.

What Are My Options for Refusing to Allow the Other Parent to Take Our Child Out of State for a Short Time?

Suppose your custody agreement and parenting plan have specific circumstances for allowing the other parent to travel out of state with the child, and the other parent’s plans fit those circumstances. In that case, there may be few grounds for refusing to allow them to do so. Suppose you have grounds, such as the plans not abiding by the agreement, or you think the child’s best interests indicate they should not leave the state during that time (for example, to avoid missing school). In that case, it’s a good idea to put that in writing and request the other parent not to travel.

If the custody agreement doesn’t specify travel concerns, you should put into writing your refusal and the reasons behind it. If the other parent disagrees, contact a family law attorney to determine the best way forward. If the other parent has a history of not respecting your rights or violating other terms of the parenting agreement, you may have grounds for legally stopping the child from leaving the state.

What Should I Do if the Other Parent Wants to Take Our Child Out of State?

Call us as soon as possible at 312-757-4833 for a no-obligation case evaluation. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable divorce and child custody attorneys will help you understand what rights you have and how to enforce them legally. We understand your concerns about allowing your child to travel out of state with your ex, and we’re here to provide support and legal guidance.