Even in amicable divorces, establishing child custody arraignments can become complex and complicated in a hurry. There’s also the very real possibility that circumstances change that warrant an adjustment to a child custody agreement. But if you are dissatisfied with your current agreement, how can you go about changing the current order? We explain how you do this, and how a lawyer can help with the process in today’s blog.
Modifying Child Custody In Illinois
In a standard child custody case, Illinois requires that at least two years have passed since the original child custody agreement was signed. So if you’re three months into an arrangement and you’re frustrated with how it’s going, it’s unlikely that a court will modify the arraignment. There are circumstances where they will make changes before two years have passed, and we’ll touch on those below, but the goal of a child custody agreement is to foster stability in a child’s life, so changes within the first two years can prove difficult, especially if one party objects to the changes.
Before we cover changes within two years, let’s look at modification requests after at least two years have passed. In order to have child custody modified after this period, you must show that there has been a change in circumstances since the original agreement. This change can be in the life of the child, in your life, or in the life of your former spouse. Some common changes include:
- New school placement
- New job location
- New living situation
- New found stability
Newly found stability serves as a catch-all for any significant positive changes you’ve made in your life. Maybe you’re been sober for three year, found more financial stability or simply made changes that will benefit your children. If you can prove a change in circumstances, and both sides agree to the modification, a judge will likely sign off on the modification. If the other parent disagrees with the modification, both sides will present their case before a judge, and they will make a determination based on the facts and the best interests of the child.
Now to touch on modifications that are being requested within two years of the original agreement. Again, child stability is of the utmost importance, so it’s not just a matter of showing that there has been a change of circumstances. You must prove that the current environment is seriously affecting the child’s physical, mental, emotional or moral health. This would qualify as an emergency, and would allow a judge to modify a young agreement.
However, as you might have guessed, proving this environment is hard to do. Even if you can point to an arrest or similar incident, there’s no guarantee it will automatically lead to a change in the custody order. This is why it’s so important to have a family law attorney by your side when considering modifying a custody arraignment.
You need to make a clear and concise argument, and oftentimes that can be difficult to do when children are involved because it can easily become an emotional plea instead of a fact-based argument. Let an attorney who is removed from the family dynamic put forth a strong case that is rooted in hard evidence, because this will give you the best chance at earning a favorable ruling.
It’s not easy to modify a child custody agreement when one party wants to keep things the same, but it’s possible if you have an expert in your corner who knows the law and can put you in a good light with the court. Brett and the team at Appelman & Lloyd have been doing that for clients for years, and they can do the same for you. If you’re interested in changing your current child custody agreement and believe a change would be in the best interest of your child, reach out to Brett Appelman today at (630) 717-7801.