Can I Take My Child Out of State If There Is No Custody Order?

When navigating the complexities of child custody arrangements, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a parent. One common question that arises is, “Can I take my child out of state if there is no custody order in place?” The answer to this question depends on various factors and legal considerations. Let’s explore the topic to gain a better understanding of what is permissible under the law.

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The Importance of Custody Orders:

Child custody orders are legal documents issued by a court that outline the custody and visitation arrangements for a child. Sometimes these orders are also called parenting plans. These orders serve to establish the rights and responsibilities of each parent, ensuring that both parties are aware of their roles in the child’s life. Having a custody order provides clarity and legal protection for all parties involved.

No Custody Order:

If there is no formal custody order in place, it generally means that both parents have equal rights to the child. Typically there will be no custody order until a divorce or custody trial has happened. In the absence of a custody order, parents are often said to have “joint legal custody.” This means that both parents have the equal right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, education, healthcare, and general well-being.

However, the absence of a custody order doesn’t necessarily grant unrestricted freedom to take your child out of state. Legal complications and potential disputes can arise if one parent decides to relocate with the child without the other parent’s consent. To learn more about  child custody agreements check out our article “Who Has Custody Of A Child If There Is No Court Order In Illinois?

Legal Implications of Relocating Without Consent:

Relocating a child out of state without the other parent’s consent when there is no custody order can lead to significant legal complications. These concequences are laid out in 720 ILCS 5/10-5.5, including:

  1. Violation of Custody Rights: Moving a child without the other parent’s consent can be considered a violation of their custodial rights. This action could be perceived as an attempt to limit the other parent’s access to the child.
  2. Potential for Legal Action: The other parent may take legal action to prevent the relocation or demand the child’s return if they believe their parental rights are being infringed upon.
  3. Court Involvement: If the situation escalates, a court may need to intervene to determine custody arrangements and whether the relocation was in the best interests of the child.
  4. Custody Battle: Unilateral relocation can spark a custody battle, making the process more complicated and emotionally challenging for all parties involved.

Often, the act of relocating with a child and without the consent of the other parent is called parental kidnapping (also known as custodial interference, child concealment, or parental abduction). The consequences can be very serious such as jail time or loss of parental rights.

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Best Interests of the Child:

When considering taking your child out of state, it’s important to keep the child’s best interests at the forefront. Courts prioritize the well-being and stability of the child when making custody and visitation decisions. If the proposed move is likely to disrupt the child’s routine, education, relationships, or overall quality of life, it may not be deemed in the child’s best interests.

Steps to Consider:

If you are contemplating relocating with your child, here are some steps to consider:

  1. Open Communication: Discuss your intentions with the other parent and try to reach an agreement on how to proceed. Clear communication can prevent misunderstandings and potential legal conflicts.
  2. Mediation: If both parents can’t agree on the relocation, consider mediation to work out a compromise that considers the child’s needs.
  3. Legal Advice: Seek legal advice from a family law attorney to understand your rights and responsibilities in your specific jurisdiction.
  4. Obtain Consent: If possible, obtain written consent from the other parent allowing the relocation. Having their consent can simplify the process and avoid legal disputes.
  5. Court Involvement: If the other parent does not consent and you still want to move, you may need to involve the court to establish a formal custody arrangement that accounts for the proposed relocation.

Conclusion: Can I Take My Child Out of State If There Is No Custody Order?

Taking your child out of state when there is no custody order in place requires careful consideration and adherence to legal guidelines. Unilateral relocation can lead to legal complications and custody disputes, potentially affecting the child’s well-being and stability. It can also land you in jail. It’s advisable to consult with a family law attorney before making any decisions related to relocation. Legal guidance can help you navigate the process and ensure that the child’s best interests are upheld while respecting both parents’ rights. Remember, making informed decisions can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.


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 (Can I Take My Child Out of State If There Is No Custody Order?) 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 mos