When a family court has issued a ruling or the approval of an agreement in an allocation of parental responsibilities case, it may seem like the case is closed. In many situations, however, things are just getting started. Illinois law allows for either parent to ask the court to modify the order in the future if and when an update becomes necessary. Before a modification will be approved, however, you will need to meet several criteria.
Significant Change in Circumstances
In most instances, you cannot seek a modification in Illinois for at least six months after a final order is issued. You will also have to prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances before the court will even consider your request to modify the order. A significant change in circumstances may include:
- A change in either parent’s work schedule or income;
- A change in the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health;
- Evolving needs of the child as he or she gets older;
- Either parent moving to a new home; and
- Either parent getting remarried or becoming involved in a serious romantic relationship.
Best Interests of the Child
Once you have established that there has been a significant change in circumstances, you will have the opportunity to request specific amendments to the existing order. You will need to convince the judge that the requested changes are in the child’s best interests.
Starting the modification process will give the other side the chance to ask for changes to the order as well. For example, it is possible for both sides to want different changes to the allocation of parental responsibilities when one parent gets a new job. The judge will have to consider the requests and evidence presented by both sides and weigh many different factors in making a determination.
Reaching an Agreement
It may be possible for both sides to reach an agreement regarding the modifications they feel would best serve their child. In cases where a couple reaches an agreement, judges will almost always grant the modifications unless the judge believes the changes would harm the child.
When an Agreement Cannot Be Reached
When the two sides cannot reach an agreement, an evidentiary hearing about the modifications will be held. This hearing will allow both sides to present evidence and call witnesses. Sometimes the modification process is just as grueling and complicated as the original court proceedings.
If you are considering seeking a modification to an existing family law order, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. Call Kezy & Associates at 708-518-8200 to discuss your case or to schedule your free initial consultation today.