How to Change Jurisdiction for Child Custody in Illinois

When a family undergoes a major life change, such as a divorce or separation, decisions regarding child custody often need to be revisited. In some cases, one parent might consider changing the jurisdiction for child custody due to various reasons like relocating for a job, seeking a better support system, or other personal circumstances. However, changing jurisdiction for child custody is a complex legal process that requires careful consideration and proper navigation through the legal system. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps and considerations for how to change jurisdiction for child custody in Illinois.

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How to Change Jurisdiction for Child Custody in Illinois

Before embarking on the journey to change jurisdiction for child custody, it’s vital to have a clear understanding of the legal process. Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court to make decisions in a particular case. Courts in different jurisdictions have their own rules and regulations for child custody matters. The first step is to research and comprehend the laws and regulations in both your current jurisdiction and the potential new jurisdiction.

To have jurisdiction over a case there are a few requirements. The parents must be living in the state or county for 90 days (this time frame may be different depending on jurisdiction), consent to that jurisdiction, or be served in that jurisdiction.

Valid Reasons for Jurisdiction Change:

Not all reasons are considered valid to change jurisdiction for child custody cases. In Illinois, and in other states, courts generally prioritize the best interests of the child involved. Valid reasons might include a significant change in circumstances, such as one parent relocating to a new state or country. Courts will also consider if the move is in line with the child’s well-being and overall development. If you are already in a divorce or child custody proceeding, then you should talk to your attorney or the judge before moving, especially if you plan on leaving the state. To learn more about leaving the state and custody orders, check out our article titled “Can I Take My Child Out of State If There Is No Custody Order?

Consult with an Attorney:

Changing jurisdiction for child custody is a legal process that necessitates expert guidance. Consulting with a family law attorney who specializes in child custody cases in Illinois is highly recommended. An experienced attorney can help you understand the legal requirements, assess the validity of your reasons for changing jurisdiction, and guide you through the necessary steps. To learn more about hiring a family law attorney check out our article titled “How Much Does a Family Law Attorney Cost in Illinois?

Notify the Other Parent:

Transparency and communication are key throughout this process. Notify the other parent about your intention to change jurisdiction for child custody. This allows both parties to engage in constructive discussions, potentially leading to an agreement without the need for a prolonged legal battle.

Familiarize Yourself with the UCCJEA:

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is a legal framework that governs child custody jurisdiction matters across state lines in the United States. If you’re considering moving to a different state, understanding how the UCCJEA operates is crucial. This act establishes guidelines for determining which state’s court has jurisdiction over child custody matters. To summarize, there are four requirements under this act and one must be met for a court to have jurisdiction. Generally these four requirements are:

  1. That the state is the home state of the child the day the petition was filed or that the state was the home state of the child within the six month period before the petition was filed.
  2. That no other court has jurisdiction and that either the child and a parent have significant connection with that state, or that there is substantial evidence that the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships are in that state.
  3. That all states that have jurisdiction have declined to exercise jurisdiction.
  4. That no court of any other state would have jurisdiction.

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File a Motion in Court:

If an agreement cannot be reached with the other parent, you will need to file a motion in the appropriate court seeking a change in jurisdiction for child custody. Your attorney can assist you in preparing and filing the necessary legal documents. The court will then assess your reasons for the jurisdiction change and make a decision based on the best interests of the child.

Provide Evidence:

When seeking a change in jurisdiction, providing evidence that supports your reasons is essential. This might include documentation of a job offer, details of the child’s relationship with extended family in the new jurisdiction, or any other factors that demonstrate how the move is advantageous for the child. To learn more about evidence in family law courts, check out our article titled “How to Present Evidence in Family Court in Illinois.

Attend Court Hearings:

Be prepared to attend court hearings related to the jurisdiction change. These hearings allow both parties to present their arguments and provide evidence to support their positions. The court will evaluate all the information and make a determination based on what is in the child’s best interests.

Mediation and Settlement:

In some cases, mediation can be an effective way to resolve disputes and reach an agreement regarding the change in jurisdiction. A neutral third party can facilitate discussions and help both parents come to a mutual decision that benefits the child.

Enforcement of the Decision:

If the court grants a change in jurisdiction for child custody, it’s important to understand that the decision must be followed and enforced. The court’s orders should be adhered to, and both parents must work together to ensure a smooth transition for the child.

Conclusion: How to Change Jurisdiction for Child Custody in Illinois

In conclusion, changing jurisdiction for child custody is a complex legal process that demands careful consideration, expert guidance, and adherence to legal procedures. Understanding the laws, working with a knowledgeable attorney, and prioritizing the best interests of the child are paramount. Open communication with the other parent can often lead to a smoother transition, and if an agreement cannot be reached, seeking legal resolution through the court is the next step. Remember, the goal is to provide a stable and nurturing environment for the child’s growth and development, regardless of the jurisdiction in which they reside.


The Family Law attorneys at Koth Gregory & Nieminski understand that your family is the top priority, which is why we offer SAME-DAY APPOINTMENTS. If you need a divorce or other family law services, you can schedule your first meeting through our online appointment calendar. We look forward to meeting you.

Disclaimer: This article (How to Change Jurisdiction for Child Custody in Illinois) may contain information that is outdated as Illinois law continuously evolves. Meeting with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to ensure you are receiving the most current information about How to Change Jurisdiction for Child Custody in Illinois.

How to Change Jurisdiction for Child Custody in Illinois

Published by Dustin Koth on February 27, 2024

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