Even when a parenting plan has worked well for years, children get older, parents’ living and work arrangements change, and everyone may find that an existing parenting plan no longer works. If you are interested in changing your parenting plan – especially if you believe your child’s other parent may not agree to the changes – it is important to understand when parenting plans can be modified and what your options may be. Read on to learn more about this important topic, and then contact an Illinois family lawyer for help.
Understand What You Need to Change
Parenting plans in Illinois are made of two separate but important components: The allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Parental responsibilities is the term for describing which parent has the authority to make important decisions on behalf of the child regarding healthcare, religious upbringing, education, and extracurricular activities. You and your ex may share parental responsibilities, or you may each make decisions in a particular area. Parenting time is simply the schedule that describes the time each child spends with each parent, including weekend and holiday schedules. Your circumstances may necessitate a change in parental responsibilities, parenting time, or both.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
Generally speaking, courts want children to experience as much stability and predictability as possible. If your parenting plan was originally ordered or changed in the last two years and you and the other parent disagree about the proposed modification, you usually cannot ask for a change in parental responsibilities unless a child is in danger.
If you and your spouse agree to make changes to your parenting time schedule, you can submit the proposed changes to the court at any time and a judge will likely approve them. If your spouse does not agree, and it more than a minor change, you will need to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that the proposed change would be in the child’s best interests.
For example, if one parent moves far enough away that driving the kids back and forth between the parents’ homes twice a week is no longer feasible, that would likely be a substantial change in circumstances that would warrant a change to the parenting time arrangements. However, what constitutes a “substantial change” can be somewhat subjective and depend on a family’s unique situation. It is important to consult with an attorney who has experience in modifying parenting plans.
Contact a DuPage County Parenting Agreement Modification Lawyer
If your or your child’s circumstances have significantly changed and you need to request a modification to your parenting agreement, contact a Wheaton, IL family law attorney with MKFM Law. We provide confidential consultations so you can learn more about your options and pursue whichever path makes the most sense for you and your family. Call 630-665-7300 today.