Can child custody agreements be modified?

We often discuss the many important matters that must be decided during a divorce. From dividing marital assets to deciding child custody and support issues, ideally the culmination of the divorce process means that both parties walk away with clear and established assets, custody rights and child support expectations. Except this isn’t always the case.

For parents, concerns and fears related to child custody issues are often plentiful. While in theory, the signing of a divorce decree should bring an end to months of uncertainty and possible feuding, some divorced parents may be unhappy with the outcome of a child custody agreement. For parents who choose to take future legal action with regard to modifying or changing the terms of child custody and visitation, it’s important to seek legal advice and assistance.

Prior substance abuse problems, financial difficulties and relocation to another state are just a few of the reasons why a parent may choose to seek a modification in child custody. Barring extenuating  circumstances, in Illinois a modification of custody can only be sought if two years have elapsed since the last order was entered. It may also be difficult to obtain a child custody modification at all as the courts aim to provide a child with stability.

Therefore, a parent who wishes to change the terms of a custody agreement must be able to prove that doing so would be in a child’s best interests. Additionally, the courts typically only grant any type of modification in cases where new and compelling evidence is presented. Due to the high burden of proof placed upon the parent seeking a custody modification, it’s wise to seek the assistance of a divorce and family law attorney who has previously successfully handled these types of cases. 

Source: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, “Child Custody Issues,” April, 8, 2015

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