A seismic change has occurred in Illinois child relocation law.
CHICAGO, IL, September 26, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Recently, the Illinois Second District Appellate Court reversed a trial judge from Kane County who denied a custodial mother’s request to relocate from Naperville to Galesburg. The trial judge found that the father’s desire to coach the child and to maintain his regular weekday parenting time outweighed the benefits to the child if the move were permitted.
In reversing the decision, the Appellate Court determined that the trial judge overlooked certain crucial facts in favor of the move.
The mother and father had one child together, who was born in November of 2017. They had both moved from their childhood homes in Galesburg to attend college in Kane County, Illinois. In the summer of 2021, the mother informed the father that she wanted to relocate back home to Galesburg (about a 2-hour drive) to have more family support and a better standard of living for both her and their daughter. The father at first agreed but later changed his mind.
At trial, Attorney John P.M. Peskind (who represented the mother in both the trial and appellate courts), argued that due to the cost of living in Naperville, the mother couldn’t afford a home and was living in a one-bedroom apartment in an industrial area. In Galesburg, the child would have a home and more resources due to family members from both the mother’s and father’s extended families.
Rejecting those arguments, the trial judge determined that the move did not align with the child’s best interests. The court determined that the father’s desire to maintain his relationship “as is” outweighed the benefits resulting from a relocation.
In the appeal, Attorney John Peskind argued that the trial court should have weighed more heavily the fact that the father had not paid child support for over a year, disregarded other support orders to contribute to the child’s daycare costs, and had also taken action to hide income in order to reduce his child support obligation.
On August 10, 2023, the Illinois Second District Appellate Court reversed the trial judge. The decision can be read here.
The Appellate Court highlighted the benefits to the child if the move were permitted. The mother and the child would have better housing and access to an abundance of close relatives.
The Appellate Court was also dismissive of the father’s arguments. He claimed a desire to coach the child, which would be unfeasible if the relocation was granted, yet the record reflected his lackluster participation with the child in the past. The Court also found that he was not entitled to maintain his existing schedule if the benefits to the child otherwise warranted a relocation.
The decision emphasized the father’s hypocrisy, “Christopher’s failure to pay child support for over a year does not demonstrate responsibility. Rather, as stated above, the trial court should consider when a parent is trying to relocate somewhere with a more affordable cost of living. We also observe that, with respect to this factor, Christopher’s professed love and regard for A.A.’s well-being is at odds with his actions, similar to how his professed desire to be involved in her activities is at odds with his record of making time for such involvement, even while living nearby and with a very flexible work schedule.” A parent must “walk their talk” when arguing for the best interest of their child.
Why This Case is Important
According to Attorney Steven N. Peskind, this case is significant because it is the first published Illinois court decision to address a parent’s child support payment history when deciding a child relocation case. “The appellate court confirmed that parental rights include concurrent responsibilities, such as the obligation to support one’s child. The consequence of non-support may be a relocation if a custodial parent needs to move to improve his or her standard of living.”
The Appellate Court also reconfirmed principles the Illinois Supreme Court set forth in the 2003 decision of In re Marriage of Collingbourne: “Our courts have long recognized that improvements in the financial situation of the custodial parent will generally benefit the child by enhancing the child’s standard of living.” (Note: Steven N. Peskind from the Peskind Law Firm successfully argued that case at the Illinois Supreme Court in 2003.)
The Peskind Law Firm has ushered in yet another new era in Illinois family law.
Peskind Law Firm
Peskind Law Firm is a top Illinois Law Firm dedicated to the practice of divorce and family law. David P. Peskind founded the firm in 1978, which has included three generations of Peskind family lawyers. The firm, which has offices in Wheaton and St. Charles, represents clients throughout Illinois and beyond. The current principal, Steven N. Peskind, is recognized nationally in the field of family law and is a Diplomate with the American College of Family Trial Lawyers, whose membership consists of the top 100 family trial lawyers in the country.
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