Illinois Supreme Court Allows Immediate Appeal of Relocation Issue

On January 25, 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that relocation issues are available for immediate appeals under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(b)(6) in the case In re the Marriage of Fatkin. Relocation is when one parent asks the court to allow that parent to move their child a certain distance away from the other parent. This issue most commonly occurs when one parent wants to move to a different state and take the parties’ child with them. An appeal is a request for a separate, higher court called an Appellate Court to review the trial court’s decision and determine if it is correct.

In this case, the child’s father wanted to move the parties’ children from Illinois to Virginia. The trial court granted the father’s request to relocate the children to Virginia. In response, the children’s mother filed an immediate appeal under Supreme Court Rule 304(b)(6), requesting the Appellate Court to reverse the trial court’s decision, which would result in the children staying in Illinois.  On appeal, the Appellate Court determined that mother’s filing of the appeal under Supreme Court Rule 304(b)(6) was proper and also found the trial court erred in granting the father’s petition to relocate the children. As a result, the Appellate Court indicated the children had to stay in Illinois. Father asked the Illinois Supreme Court to review the Appellate Court’s decision and grant his request to relocate the children to Virginia.

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304 allows appeals from final judgments that do not necessarily end the case. In other words, if a single case has multiple issues, and a final order is entered with respect to one issue but not the other issues, a party can appeal the finalized issue under certain circumstances. Supreme Court Rule 304(b)(6) allows parties to immediately appeal issues involving “a custody or allocation of parental responsibilities judgment or modification of such judgment” even if there are other issues still being considered by the trial court. In the Fatkin case, the Illinois Supreme Court found that relocation issues are immediately appealable under Rule 304(b)(6) even if other issues are still being addressed by the trial court. The Supreme Court also found that the trial court was right and allowed father to relocate his children to Virginia. You can read the Supreme Court’s opinion here.

I found this case interesting not only as a family lawyer, but as an appellate lawyer. If you are considering relocating your children outside of the state of Illinois or would like to see if your case is ripe for an appeal, feel free to contact my office at 872-205-6548 for your free consultation.