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Modifying the Parenting Agreement or Decree in Illinois | Learn About Law

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Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
August 24, 2020

Once a divorce is finalized, and the parenting agreement in place, the decree will have the specific terms to property division, parenting time, child support, and maintenance support. The decree is considered law—it is legally binding. Sometimes parents have a very different understanding of the obligations and parameters of the decree. Sometimes the decree is inappropriate or unfair forcing parents into a set of requirements that do not fit their needs. Other cases circumstances change over time and the agreement no longer applies to the current situation. When a divorce settlement or parenting plan is no longer appropriate parents may alter the terms of the agreement through a post-decree modification.


Will Illinois Law Allow Me to Modify My Marital Settlement?


Once a divorce is finalized the terms of the marital settlement and parenting agreement have specific terms that are considered law. Typically, you cannot modify the property settlement if more than 30 days has passed, unless you can prove it was divided fraudulently. If 30 days has not passed you can file a motion with the court that handled your divorce to modify the property settlement.


What Circumstances in Illinois Allow Modification of a Parental Agreement?


Parenting time may be modified at any time. If the court discovers facts that were not anticipated when the parental agreement was ordered, if there has been a substantial change in circumstances for the child, or either parent, then a modification is necessary to serve the child’s best interest.


Parental decision-making responsibilities may only be modified 2 years after the date of the final order unless there is reason to believe the child’s present environment may seriously endanger his mental, moral, or physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. The court in a modification of a parental decision-making will consider the child’s best interests. 

In Illinois What is a Substantial Change of Circumstances?


  • Financial – Loss of a job, increase or loss of wages, unforeseen medical expenses of the child, remarriage, one parent’s income substantially decreasing.
  • Catastrophic Injury – an injury that may cause a disability and lost wages.
  • Remarrying – one or both ex-spouse remarrying.
  • Geographical – Needing to move to another state or possibly city depending on what county you live in in Illinois.
  • Death in the Family
  • Unfit Parent – Allegations of child abuse, substance abuse or abandonment has occurred since the date of the original decree.

When can Child Support be Modified in Illinois?


Child support can be modified in Illinois when there is a substantial increase or decrease in income for either party. The reduction of income cannot be self-imposed, it must be due to natural circumstances. Child support may also be modified when a child turns 18 and has graduated from high school.


At What Point Can Maintenance be Modified in Illinois?


In Illinois maintenance can be modified if the marital settlement agreement states it is modifiable. If it states it is to be non-modifiable then the amount remains the same through the term of the agreement. 


Maintenance can be modified when there is a substantial change in financial circumstances. However, when the payor’s income increases it does not mean maintenance may increase. Maintenance is for the former spouse to enjoy the same economic lifestyle after divorce as she had during the marriage. The receiver is not due an increase due to her former husband enjoying an improved lifestyle.


There are three situations in Illinois when spousal maintenance may be terminated:

 

  1. Cohabitation,
  2. Remarriage, and 
  3. Death of either party. 


Can I Move to a Different City in Illinois, or to a Different State?


A parent relocating is considered a substantial change in circumstances. If a parent moves more than 25 miles and lives in Cook, Will, DuPage, Kane, Lake or McHenry away the parent intending to move needs to provide written notice of the relocation to the other parent under the parenting plan or allocation judgment. If the parent lives in any of the other counties notice needs to be provided if they move more than 50 miles. The notice must be filed with the Court, and provided at least 60 days before the relocation unless it is impracticable. In such a case it needs to be provided at the earliest possible date. If both parents sign the notice the Court will modify the agreement and permit the relocating parent’s relocation to be in the child’s best interest. If the non-relocating parent does not agree to sign the notice, the relocating parent must file a petition seeking the Court’s permission to relocate.

The Court looks at various factors in considering the relocation:

  1. The reason and circumstances for the relocation.
  2. The reason, if any, why the non-relocating parent is objecting.
  3.  History and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child and specifically whether a parent has failed to exercise the parental responsibilities.
  4. Educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and the new location.
  5. The presence or absence of extended family.
  6. Anticipated impact on the child.
  7. How the Court can allocate parental responsibilities if the relocation occurs.
  8. The wishes of the child, taking into account the age and emotional maturity of the child.
  9. The exercise of parental responsibilities with the resources available to the developmental level of the child.
  10. Minimization of impairment to the parent-child relationship caused by the parent’s relocation.


Will Illinois Allow Me to Request a Change Custody?

Custody can only be changed two years after the parenting agreement has been approved by the court. Before that time the only way a custody change can occur is when the child’s present environment seriously endangers her mental, moral or physical health, or significantly impairs the child’s emotional development.  

Is it Permitted in Illinois Modify the Parental Agreement Without a Change in Circumstances?


The court may modify a parental agreement without a change of circumstances if the modification is in the child’s best interest and one of the following; 1) The modification reflects the actual arrangements for which the child has been receiving care for the last six months. For example, the agreement has one parent getting visitation on Mondays, but the residential parent has permitted visits on Mondays and Wednesdays. The court could allow this modification, because it has already occurred with both parties consent. 2) The modification is minor. 3) The modification is necessary based on facts the court did not have at the time, and the order would have been different had the court know of those facts. 4) Both parties agree to the modification.


Steps in Modifying:


  1. Complete the necessary legal forms.
  2. Draft Motion to modify presenting the reason for the change.
  3. Sign your motion in front of a notary
  4. File your motion
  5. Serve your former spouse and provide her with the requested hearing date.
  6. Attend mediation or pre-hearing if required.
  7. Appear in court for your hearing.


Deciding if a modification is possible, and what is a substantial change in circumstances can be difficult. Seeking the advice of an attorney before filing a motion to modify can save you time and money. Call our experienced family law attorneys at (630) 324-6666 for help with modifying your parenting agreement in Illinois.


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