How To Modify A Family Law Court Order
Decisions regarding child custody and child support are made under certain circumstances. However, circumstances can change. People remarry. People move to other states for work or family reasons. Children’s needs change. Incomes change. When this happens, existing court orders may no longer make sense. Modification may be necessary.
At Fawell & Fawell in Wheaton, Illinois, our child custody modification lawyers provide child custody, child support and other modification services. Whether the modification is sought months after the initial family law case or years later, our goal is the same: to modify orders so they make sense now.
In Illinois, court orders can be updated or changed, but the ease of modification depends on the circumstances. Child custody, child support and other orders can be modified by agreement of the parties or when a substantial change has occurred.
Changing A Family Court Order By Agreement
An agreement means both parties understand and agree to all proposed changes to a court order. Parents should understand how the changes will impact their parental rights, and a good starting point is reviewing the original child custody, child support or other orders. If a parent does not have a copy of his or her order, one can be obtained from the circuit court clerk’s office in the county where the case was heard.
What Does It Mean When A Custody Or Support Agreement Changes?
A change in custody may mean that the child moves in with the other parent, visitation time changes or questions about child rearing are settled differently, among others. A change in support typically means a change in the payment amount. If parents agree to the proposed changes, legal documents must still be filed with the court to ask a judge to change the order.
How To Legalize The Changes
For the change to be legal, the judge must approve the agreement and grant the requested changes. Without a judge’s approval, a parent acting under the changes may be in violation of the original order and subject to legal penalties. A parent who agrees to change the order can work with his or her attorney to fully understand how parental rights may change and to receive assistance in completing the required motion to modify custody or support.
Changing A Family Court Order When Parties Do Not Agree
A party can also change a court order even when the other party does not agree with the proposed change, but certain conditions must be met. A child custody order can be changed if at least two years have passed since the date of the original order and at least one of the following changes has occurred and is necessary to serve the best interest of the child:
- A change in the circumstances of the custodial parent
- A change in the child’s circumstances
- If the parents have joint custody, a change in the circumstances of either or both parents
Examples of circumstances that may qualify as actionable changes include:
- A parent’s remarriage
- A parent’s need to relocate out of the immediate geographic area because of employment
- Parents with joint custody no longer agreeing on decisions regarding the child
- The child’s health concerns
- A parent’s health concerns
A parent may request a modification of visitation at any time if there is a change in circumstances. A parent may also change custody within two years of the original order if both parents agree. The events that create a change in circumstances must have occurred after the original custody order was entered. In addition, the parent who seeks to change the custody order must demonstrate the change in circumstances, which is a high burden. Our lawyers can provide valuable assistance throughout the modification process by explaining, protecting and enforcing a parent’s rights.