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Mother ordered to relocate, enroll children in previous school


Many parents in Illinois experience child custody and relocation following a divorce. In nearby Wisconsin, to keep the best interests of the children in mind, a recent judgment by an appeals court ordered a mother of two autistic children to move back to the state and enroll her children in their previous school.

At the time of the divorce in 2007, the husband and wife were awarded joint legal custody of the children, although they were primarily placed with the mother. In 2011, the mother petitioned for permission to move the children to a different school because she was moving to Cook County, Illinois. She was permitted to move and the father's placement time was reduced during the school year.

However, she did not move to anywhere near the mentioned area and did not enroll the children in the school as was indicated in the petition. Instead, she moved an area closer to the mother's home. The father then filed a motion to modify the judgment. A Family Court Commissioner ordered the mother to move back to Lake Geneva where she was previously residing and ordered that she enroll the children in one of their schools or lose child custody.

This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeals on grounds that such a decision was in the best interest of the children. The Court observed that schooling is an important issue, especially for children with special needs, and that the best interests of the children were served if they attended school in the Wood School district. The Court attempted to return the children to the familiar atmosphere they enjoyed before their mother obtained permission to move.

The mother argued that the court cannot require her to move back as a condition for retaining primary custody. The Court of Appeals rejected this argument by stating that the conditions based on which she initially moved were never fulfilled.

The place of residence and schooling are important considerations for courts when awarding child custody to divorced parents. Any substantial change in circumstances with respect to those factors might lead to a review of the decision to award custody.

Source: Wisbar.org, "Appeals Court Upholds Order Requiring Mother to Move Back to School District," Joe Forward, Oct. 31, 2014

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