Divorced parents will usually share custody of their children, and when doing so, they will follow the parenting plan that was included as part of their divorce decree or judgment. This document will address the allocation of parental responsibilities (commonly known as “legal custody”), and it will include schedules for parenting time (also referred to as “physical custody” or “visitation”). A parenting plan will provide a framework for how parents will work together to raise their children. Because parents’ and children’s lives may change in the years following a divorce or breakup, modifications to child custody arrangements may be needed. Parents should be sure to understand when these types of changes may be made and the steps they will need to take to do so.
Modifying a Parenting Plan Because of Changed Circumstances
Illinois law states that changes to the allocation of parental responsibilities cannot be made within the first two years following the issuance of a divorce decree or child custody order, although exceptions may be made if the court determines that a child would be at risk of physical or emotional harm in their present environment. Parenting time, on the other hand, can be modified at any time, either by an agreement between the parents or because of a “significant change in circumstances.” After the first two years, legal custody modifications may also be made based on changed circumstances.
Significant changes in circumstances may include any issues that affect either the parents or the children and require changes to how parents make decisions about the children or adjustments to the time the children spend in each parent’s care. For example, one parent may begin a new job that will require them to work during their scheduled parenting time, and they may ask that the schedule be changed to ensure that they can continue to spend the same amount of time with their children. Legal custody may be modified if children experience changes that affect the parents’ ability to make decisions. For instance, a child may experience a serious illness or health condition, and the parent who primarily provides care to the child may ask for the sole authority to make the necessary decisions about the medical care the child will receive.
Either parent may file a petition in court requesting modifications to their parenting plan, or the parents may agree on the changes that will be made. As with all other child-related issues, a family court judge will consider the child’s best interests when deciding whether to grant a requested modification. Even if parents agree about the changes they wish to make, a modification request may be rejected if the judge determines that it would not be in the child’s best interests.
Contact Our Naperville Post-Divorce Modification Attorneys
If you wish to make changes to your parenting plan, the lawyers of Calabrese Associates, P.C. can advise you of the best ways to protect your parental rights and show that these modifications would be in your child’s best interests. We will provide you with representation in court hearings, and we will work to make sure you can maintain a good relationship with your children and continue to provide for their needs. Contact our DuPage County child custody modification lawyers today by calling 630-393-3111.