You’ve gone through a divorce and the judge has issued a custody agreement for your children. You abide by the child support agreement for a couple months, but then you decide you want to go to court to try and modify the agreement. How can you go about petitioning for a modification? Here’s a little more information about modifying child custody in Illinois.
Modifying An Existing Agreement
Under Illinois law, once a final decree of custody has been ordered, you may not petition to have the parental responsibilities modified for two years. There are some exceptions to this rule, but the reason behind the two year waiting period is to help establish some daily and weekly stability for the child. After all, the well being of the child comes foremost in any custody agreement.
As we noted above, there are some exceptions to this two year waiting period. The child custody agreement can be modified at any time if:
- Both parents agree to the modification, and the new agreement is in the child’s best interest.
- Both parties waive the two year moratorium by filing a joint stipulation waiving the period.
- Both parties file for sole custody.
- If one of the parents marries or begins a relationship with a sex offender.
- If the present environment “seriously endangers” the child’s mental, physical or moral well being.
- If the present environment significantly impairs the child’s emotional development.
If none of the above factors are present, a parent must wait two years before applying for modification of child custody.
After Two Years
If you want to modify child support after two years, there are a couple ways you can go about it, but it depends on whether or not there have been “substantial changes” to the circumstances surrounding the child.
Two Years with Substantial Change – It is easier to have child support modified if you can prove that there have been substantial changes in either the child or the parents. For example, if you had a troubled past but have been clean for the last two years, you may be able to modify custody to see your child more. Even if there are significant changes, the modification must still be rooted in the best interests of the child.
After Two Years with no Substantial Change – Even if there has been no significant changes in circumstances surrounding the agreement, you can still petition for modification after two years if:
- The petition to modify serves the best interests of the child and the proposed agreement has already been in place for six months. For example, let’s say your ex took a new job that requires them to work late on Tuesdays. Even though Tuesday is not your day to have your child, your ex agrees that you can watch the child until they can pick them up after work. Many parents make minor tweaks to the initial arrangement on a verbal basis without going through the court system, but after two years you can petition to have it in writing that you can pick up your child on Tuesdays, or you may be able to petition for full custody on Tuesdays if you can prove that doing so would be in the child’s best interests.
- The modification is minor.
- If the original custody agreement would not have been issued had the court been aware of other circumstances at that time.
Naperville Child Custody Attorney
At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters when it comes to modifying child support in Illinois is if the change is in the best interest of the child. If you can prove that, odds are you can successfully petition for child custody to be modified.