Modifying a parenting plan

Whether you arrived at your current parenting plan through agreement or had it ordered by the court after litigation, there may come a time when it no longer works for you and your children. Illinois law allows for the modification of a parenting plan when circumstances warrant it.

The most important thing parents need to know is that they should always apply to the court for an official modification order. This is true even if the other parent agrees to simply change things. However, if he or she has a change of mind in the future, you may find yourself facing the consequences of disobeying a court order.

How it works

Generally, if both parents agree to the proposed modification, judges tend to approve the request unless it involves something obviously detrimental to the children’s best interests. If only one parent wants the modification, he or she must file a petition with the court and serve the other parent with a copy so that he or she may respond. The court will then set a hearing to determine whether the changes would be better for the child than the original provisions.

Change in circumstance

Although Illinois law does not formally require a party seeking modification to prove circumstances have changed, judges tend to want a strong argument to show this. Because the original order was based on the court’s determination that its provisions would best serve the child’s interests, judges are usually willing to change it only when the parent shows that circumstances have changed in a way that would make different provisions the best for the child.

Changing custody

With a custody change modification, rather than simply revising the visitation schedule, courts apply stricter criteria. Generally, a court will not consider a modification request within two years of the original order unless the requesting parent shows that the current arrangements are likely to endanger the child. 

In some cases, parental relocation may count as a substantial change that may warrant a modification order. However, this can be a highly complex issue. If you have reason to seek a change in the current visitation or custody arrangements, it is important to seek advice based on your specific circumstances.

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