When you first get divorced, you and your family lawyer will draft an initial child custody order based on the facts and conditions at that time. However, life changes, and as time goes on, there are numerous reasons you may want or need to have your custody order changed.
In most cases, the Chicago courts will allow you to modify your custody order when you can show that it is necessary and serves your child’s best interests. Their final decision will be determined by a preponderance of the evidence-based facts that have changed since your existing parenting plan was ordered. Many things may have been altered and were not anticipated at that time. Now, however, a substantial change has occurred in the circumstances of your child or either parent’s life, thus warranting a modification to serve your child’s best interests.
Many things in life can, and will, change that may warrant a modification of the parenting plan. The following are a few examples, but there are many more and could include:
- If you have evidence that your child is mentally or physically at risk in their current living
- Your child is already at risk or exhibits signs of developing psychological issues directly associated with their current living situation.
- Your child is developing social issues related to their current custodial parent.
- Sound evidence that clearly shows sexual or physical abuse of your child.
- Evidence that your child’s custodial parent is now residing with a convicted sex offender.
- Any significant decline in your child’s school performance, such as poor grades or unfavorable changes in extra-curricular activities.
- If the current custodial parent is sentenced for a crime and now in prison.
This is a complex area of the law, and the Chicago courts will undoubtedly move forward on your modification if they feel it’s in your child’s best interests.
Commonly, you can change parental responsibilities at any time if you and your ex-spouse or partner agree. However, if you disagree, there is a two-year waiting period after the first custody order was put in place before you can alter custodial responsibilities. Usually, the only exception is if the child is in danger, and then you could modify the order at any time.
Under What Circumstances Could the Court Find A Modification Unnecessary?
Most of the situations listed above clearly indicate that your child’s situation is untenable and must change. Still, other circumstances may seem vital to you, but not the Illinois court.
They may not persuade a judge to warrant a change to your current child custody modification. Some examples of these situations that may not result in your child custody order being modified are:
- Simple failure to comply with the current custody order is not commonly significant grounds for modification. For example, your spouse does not allow you to schedule parenting time by the existing order. In this example, the judge may take steps to enforce the original order rather than make modifications.
- A change in your ex-spouse’s circumstances that will not directly impact your children will typically also not be a reason to modify the child custody order.
Keep in mind that when the judge decides on your child’s custody, they will always be focused on the circumstances that affect your children much more than how the situation affects you. In the court’s mind, what’s best for the child is always paramount in their decision to modify a child custody order.
Your best path is always to discuss your reasons and motivation for trying to modify your custody order with your qualified and knowledgeable Chicago child custody lawyer. By doing this, you will have the best chance of getting the modification you desire.
How Do I Apply For a Child Custody Modification in Chicago?
In Chicago, commonly, a motion to modify custody must be filed when filing for your modification. This motion must usually always be filed in the county where your original custody order was put in place.
If, however, your child no longer lives in that county, your family lawyer may be able to have the case transferred. Usually, your filing will have to begin in the original county.
If both parents agree on the modification, a joint motion to modify custody time may be filed.
You will almost always have to draft and submit an affidavit that establishes that your case meets the specific requirements for modification. Even with this attested to declaration of facts, your judge may order a formal custody evaluation. The judge will commonly ask for status hearings and find ways to settle disputes upon issues short of a full trial. If any pertinent matters cannot be resolved, then a full trial on the modification is called for.
The complexity of this issue is apparent, and the help of your Chicago child custody lawyer will be invaluable in drafting, filing, and negotiating with the court successfully.
What Is the “Substantial Change in Circumstances” Test Regarding my Modification?
The “Substantial Change in Circumstances” test is used by the courts to determine and validate the proposal to modify child support or custody. It helps determine whether there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” when you seek to alter custody or related support of your child.
Proving substantial changes in circumstances is evaluated in many issues involving child custody, child support, etc.
Some items that are “substantial changes” are:
- A decrease in income of either parent.
- A change in custody is mandated.
- A change in parenting time.
- When your child may become emancipated.
- An increase in either parents’ income.
It is never easy to change a court-mandated custody order or any other things that directly may affect your child’s well-being. Consulting with a qualified, empathetic Chicago family lawyer is always the best path to help ensure the success of your legal request.
I Need To Modify My Child Custody Order; How Should I Proceed?
Divorce and its inherently strong emotions are never easy for any family but sometimes affect your children the most. The varied items decided at the divorce always change over time. When these times come, you need an experienced Chicago family law team dedicated to getting you what your child and family deserve.
The lawyers at the Law Offices of Robert B. Buchanan care about your well-being, your family, and especially your children. Consult with this empathetic and winning team first, and they will do anything they need to make sure your children’s best interests are fully protected.