A removal action occurs when a custodial parent who is separated from the other parent - either through divorce or because they were never married in the first place - tries to move out of state with their children. If the noncustodial parent agrees to the move, the process can be as simple as entering an agreed order with a judge. However, if the noncustodial parent objects, the court will become more involved, and the process will likely take between 3 and 6 months.
In order for a parent to move a child out of state over the other parent's objection, the custodial parent must prove their case to the judge using the Eckert Factors. These factors are (1) whether the proposed move will enhance the quality of life for both the custodial parent and the children, (2) whether the proposed move is a ruse designed to frustrate or defeat the noncustodial parent's visitation, (3) the noncustodial parent's motives in resisting removal, (4) the noncustodial parent's visitation rights, and (5) whether a reasonable visitation schedule can be worked out. However, it's important to note that these factors are not be-all end-all and that other things may be considered by the judge. At the end of the day, everything is about what is in the best interest of the child.
Because every child custody case is different, each case will be decided on its own merits based on the specific facts surrounding the case. However, there are some things that can help a custodial parent prove their case more easily. For example, in In Re Marriage of Collingbourne, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the benefit to a child that results from a move may more directly affect the parent than the child as indirect benefits will flow to the child. In other words, a parent with a great job opportunity in another state could successfully argue that a move would enhance the quality of the life for the child, even if the improvement would more directly benefit the parent.
Removal actions can require great deals of work and time if not done properly. If you are a parent involved in a removal action, you best chance at success will involve hiring an attorney to help you with your case. If you are in need of legal representation in a removal action, contact The Law Offices of Van A. Schwab. Call (847) 943-3913 to schedule an initial consultation.