Is Marriage Different?

Illinois’ policy is that children born to unmarried parents have the same rights as those children whose parents never marry.  But does that mean the restrictions on that child’s parent are also the same?  Illinois law requires a  custodial parent who wants to  permanently remove  a  child from the state to obtain permission of the court. The obvious policy of this law is to protect and preserve the relationship between the child and his other parent. Without arguing the merits of this law generally, the question is whether courts should apply this law if the parents were never married. Can the state limit where a never married custodial parent lives?

Assume an unmarried couple conceive a child as a result of a casual liason.  And assume mom, who has physical and legal custody, wants to move to Hawaii. Should the court restrict her freedom of movement, applying the same standard it would if mom and dad had been married, and at one time were an intact family?  Considering the policy behind relocation restrictions, a different standard makes no sense. But something seems wrong to me about restricting this never wed mother’s mobility.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it seems qualitatively different to me.  My visceral sense is that the unwed custodial parent should not be limited in their ability to move with the child.  But I can’t articulate why. Anybody have any thoughts?

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1 Comment

Filed under child custody, Child Relocation, Uncategorized

One response to “Is Marriage Different?

  1. Paul Nunes

    Lex, I think the courts correctly apply the best interest of the child in these cases regardless if the child is born out of wedlock. Where is the hypothetical Father in the Hawaii scenario? If he’s even minimally involved in the child’s life that relationship should not be arbitrarily terminated.
    One thought might be that you yourself are a devoted Father with strong family values and you’ve had so much exposure to clients’ whose marriages were at one time intact that the idea of an unwed mom who wants to leave town with her kid doesn’t seem quite as important… but it is in my opinion.
    To a child, marriage is not different.

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