When parents divorce, the final divorce decree will contain the terms of the divorce, including child custody terms. The parents are required to follow these terms. Failure one-size-fits-all to charges for contempt of Court. However, circumstances change, and sometimes, the initial child custody terms are no longer appropriate for the situation. Read on for several frequently asked questions about modifying child custody in Illinois.
How Can I Change My Parenting Plan?
Illinois parents use a Parenting Plan or Parenting Agreement to describe how they will share parenting duties. Illinois law classifies parenting duties into two main categories: Parental responsibilities are decision-making responsibilities, and parenting time is the time a child spends with each parent.
If you wish to modify parenting time, you may do so if the modification serves the child’s best interests. If you and your spouse agree on the modification, you can submit the modification to the Court for approval. If you and the other parent disagree about the proposed modification, the Court may require you to attend family law mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful and you still disagree about the parenting time modification, the Court may appoint a guardian ad litem or child custody evaluator to assess the situation and provide the Court with an informed opinion.
Changing the allocation of parental responsibilities is harder than changing parenting time. Usually, parents are only able to modify parental responsibilities if it has been at least two years since the child custody order was entered or last modified. However, the two-year requirement may be waived if the current allocation of parental responsibilities endangers the child’s wellbeing. The parent seeking modification will need to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances necessitating the change. If the Court believes that the modification is in the child’s best interests, the Court will allow the parenting plan to be modified.
What Does the “Child’s Best Interests” Mean?
Illinois Courts always place the child’s best interests as the top priority when making decisions about child custody modifications. Courts evaluate the following factors when deciding what is in the child’s best interests:
- Each parent’s preferences and opinions
- The health of the parties involved
- The child’s opinion if he or she is old enough to have an informed opinion
- The child’s needs
- Each parent’s past involvement in the child’s life
- The child’s relationship with siblings and other family members
- The child’s adjustment to his or her current living situation, school, etc.
- Any prior agreements between the parents
- Transportation concerns
- Abuse, domestic violence, or any reason that a parent’s parenting time or parental responsibilities should be limited
- Any other factor the Court finds relevant
Contact an Arlington Heights Parenting Plan Modification Lawyer
At the Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., we understand that modifying your parenting plan may be complicated and challenging. Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson can help. Call 847.873.6741 for a free consultation.