In Illinois, parents can ask for a change to a child custody arrangement, referred to as a modification. Child custody cases in Illinois focus on the best interests of the child. Therefore, the requirements for a custody modification prioritize the comfort and safety of the child. Several rules dictate how custody orders can be modified.
Illinois aims at promoting stability in children’s lives. For that reason, under normal circumstances, parents asking for a modification are required to ensure that two years have passed since the signing of the last custody order. There are two exceptions to this two-year rule:
- There is a factor in the current environment that can severely endanger a child’s wellbeing.
- Both parents agree to a modification.
Seriously harmful environment
Emergency situations will qualify for modifications inside the first two years of custody orders. The parent filing the petition will have to prove the child’s current environment is endangering his or her physical, emotional, mental, or moral health. For example, if the court determines that there are acts or threats of domestic violence or emotional or sexual abuse, it will strive to remove the child from that home as soon as possible.
Both parents agree
If both parents agree to changes to their custody arrangement, they can have their agreement modified at any time. They will have to file court papers to request the court to approve the arrangement to make the new parenting plan legal. Parents that agree on new arrangements get modifications more quickly than those who fail to agree.
If only one parent wants to modify the agreement or the other parent does not agree to the changes, the parent filing the petition to modify the custody arrangement will have to prove that substantial changes have occurred since the original custody order. For example, the other parent may have relocated or may be interfering with the agreed-upon parenting time.
The court can modify a child custody arrangement to reflect the agreement that has been in place in the previous six months. If a schedule had been put in place, but the parents changed it slightly without modifying the court documents, they will not have to show that substantial changes have taken place. If the slight change reflects how the child has been living in the past six months, the parents can ask the court to update its paperwork to match the current arrangement.
Minor changes also get approved by the courts without much hassle. For example, a parent may be supposed to have the child on Wednesday but has to switch to Thursday. That is likely to be viewed as a minor change.
Filing for a Modification
A parent seeking a modification must file a motion to modify child custody. He or she must file the motion in the same county the original order was signed. The case can be transferred if the child moved to another county. Many parents find modifying a custody order to be complicated and so choose to consult with child custody lawyers.
To successfully obtain a modification, parents should make sure they follow the proper guidelines.