An important part of any divorce involving children is a parenting plan. Parenting plans are part of the final divorce decree and, as such, are legally binding. They cannot be modified without court approval and parents who fail to abide by the terms of their parenting plan can find themselves facing court sanctions and loss of parental privileges. Sometimes, however, life changes, and under certain circumstances, parents can successfully petition an Illinois court to change the parenting plan to an arrangement that makes more sense for their family. If you want to petition for a modification of your parenting plan, here are a few things to know.
When Can a Parenting Plan Be Modified in Illinois?
It is important to note that parents cannot modify the allocation of parental responsibilities (custody or important decision-making authority) simply because they do not like the plan’s contents or believe the arrangement is unfair. Many parents feel upset when they first get divorced because they are dissatisfied with the arrangements of the divorce decree. However, whether an arrangement is truly unfair is neither here nor there as far as Illinois courts are concerned; to petition for a modification, parents must wait two years after the divorce is finalized. The only exception to this is if keeping the current plan would put a child at risk of physical or emotional harm.
Parenting time – which is the arrangement that details when each parent will spend time with the child – can be modified at any time as long as there is a significant change in circumstances or if both parents agree to the change. For example, if one parent gets promoted to a job that has them working night shifts, the parenting plan will need to change; that parent can ask their ex-spouse to approve the change, or they can go to the court to get the change approved. Either way, it is important to make changes with the court instead of simply agreeing in person.
What Is a Significant Change?
Significant changes are any issues that affect the parents or child that require an adjustment in how parents spend time with the child or make important decisions on their behalf. Job changes are one example; further examples are relocating, getting remarried or divorced, the child becoming old enough to have a preference or a child or parent who develops a serious health condition.
Filing for a modification does not guarantee that the court will approve it. A judge will evaluate the current parenting plan, the proposed changes, why the parent wants the change, and whether the change would be in the child’s best interests.
Meet with a Will County Family Lawyer
If you are hoping to modify your parenting plan, it is important to understand when and why it is possible so you can maximize your chances of success. An experienced Joliet, IL parenting agreement modification attorney can help you understand your options and, if necessary, help you file for a modification and advocate on your behalf. Call the offices of the The Foray Firm to schedule an initial consultation.