Is It Possible to Modify Child Support and Custody Orders in Illinois?

The short answer is yes. While court orders hold significant legal weight, they’re not entirely unchangeable. However, it’s not a process to be undertaken lightly. The courts will expect some significant reasons to make a change unless both parents agree when they approach the court. If they’re not, the parent requesting the change must prove that it is necessary and the primary purpose of the change is in the child’s best interests.

It’s also crucial to understand that the original orders are still legally binding until the court signs off on the new orders. The parents should not make changes to either the support or custody arrangements until the court orders them to.

Whether working on child support or custody issues, working with Chicago-based lawyers for legal modifications is vital.

When Is It Possible to Modify Child Support in Illinois?

The bottom line for the court is what’s in the child’s best interests; obviously, helping the child have resources for things such as food and clothing is critical. But if the parent paying child support has had a significant change in their financial state, such as losing their job or a severe decrease in income, they can request a modification to reduce the amount they pay. The same is true if the person paying child support receives a significant increase in income in that the person receiving support can request an increase (although it’s not a given that the court will approve the request).

It’s vital to understand that voluntarily quitting a job does not make the person paying child support eligible for a reduced amount. If they’ve involuntarily lost their job and have trouble finding a new one, that could make them eligible, but not choosing to leave work or take a cut in pay.

When Is It Possible to Modify Child Custody in Illinois?

As with child support, the courts will look for significant reasons behind the request to change physical child custody (also known as parenting time). First and foremost, they’ll look at what’s best for the child. They’ll balance the need for the child to have a reliable routine with other factors that affect their well-being. Note: The courts usually require at least three years to have elapsed since the original order was placed or a previous modification was made to consider a subsequent change unless something has happened that could affect the child’s health and safety, such as one parent becoming abusive or an addict.

Among the reasons the courts will consider modifying physical child custody are these.

  • The child is endangered due to the custodial parent becoming abusive or addicted to alcohol or other drugs.
  • The custodial parent has moved in with or married a convicted sex offender.
  • The custodial parent has a new job that affects the hours they spend with the child or involves relocation away from the rest of the child’s family and friends, at least 25-50 miles away, depending on the county.
  • The child has an illness or injury that requires additional care.
  • The custodial parent has lost their job due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • The child is exhibiting signs of failure to thrive, including weight loss, emotional and behavioral issues that didn’t previously exist, declining grades at school, and lost interest in extracurricular activities and friends.
  • The custodial parent is imprisoned.

What Is the Process for Modifying Child Support in Illinois?

The parent requesting the change needs to gather documentation supporting the change and file a petition with the court that issued the original support order. The other parent must be notified by certified mail or from a process server. Then, the court schedules a hearing where each parent can present their reasons for or against the change and explain how it is or isn’t in the child’s best interests. After the hearing, the judge reviews the facts and evidence and makes a ruling. If the change is approved, both parents should receive a copy of it so it’s clear what the court expects.

During the process, the original order is still in place. The paying parent should not stop making payments during that time.

What Is the Process for Modifying Physical Child Custody in Illinois?

If both parents agree on the modifications and the court deems the changes to be in the child’s best interests, having the judge sign off on the new order is usually a simple matter. But if one or the other parent disagrees with the proposed changes, a more formal legal process occurs.

As noted above, at least two years must have elapsed since the previous support order (unless the child is in danger). Then, the parent wanting the changes must file a petition in the place where the original decree was issued. The parents are then required to go through mediation to try and resolve their differences. If that doesn’t succeed, the case will move to court, and the judge will decide.

What Should I Do if I Need Help Modifying Child Support or Custody Orders in Illinois?

Call the Law Offices of Robert Buchanan at 312-757-4833 for a no-obligation free consultation. This complex process could benefit from the involvement of our knowledgeable, experienced family law attorneys. We can walk through the specifics of your case and provide options for the approach to achieve the best possible outcomes.