There are many reasons that spouses seek to modify their divorce decrees once a divorce case has been finalized. For example, one of the parties paying or receiving spousal support or child support might have had a change in job situation, or circumstances surrounding parental responsibilities may have shifted. While it can be frustrating to think about going back before the court to modify an existing order, most divorce decree modifications must be done officially through the court system. The following are some key factors to keep in mind when you are seeking to modify an existing divorce order.
Determine if You Can Resolve Any Issues or Disputes With the Other Parent
Sometimes issues that arise may not need court involvement. If there are minor issues surrounding parenting time, or minor matters concerning spousal maintenance or child support that do not interfere with the existing divorce decree, it may not be necessary to seek a modification. With your lawyer’s help, you may be able to resolve the issue with your ex without going back to court.
You Will Need to Determine Whether a Substantial Change in Circumstances Has Occurred
For most types of divorce decree modifications, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) requires the petitioning party to show that a “substantial change in circumstances” has occurred. While the IMDMA does not expressly define the scenarios that constitute a substantial change in circumstances, you will need to be able to show that you are not asking to modify the order on a whim and that a shift in your situation has necessitated a modification of the court order.
Common examples of situations that might constitute a substantial change in circumstances, thereby allowing the court to modify an existing divorce decree, include but are not limited to the following:
- Loss of a job;
- Demotion that results in lower pay;
- Promotion that results in increased pay;
- Change in job responsibilities or schedule that makes the existing parenting time arrangement untenable;
- Offer of another job in another state, with the need to relocate;
- Occurrence of family violence;
- Changes in the child’s mental or physical health;
- Changes in the child’s wishes; or
- Parent being arrested and incarcerated.
These are just some examples of situations that may be considered a substantial change in circumstances. If you have questions about other situations or circumstances, you should seek advice from an Illinois family lawyer who can help you to determine your likelihood of being able to modify the existing order.
Understand That Illinois Law Wants Both Parents to Play a Role in Their Child’s Life
If your goal in seeking to modify an existing order is to keep the other parent out of your child’s life, you should know that this will rarely be successful.
The IMDMA underscores that, unless the court finds “evidence that a parent’s exercise of parenting time [or significant decision-making responsibilities, in some cases] would seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health,” it will not restrict parental responsibilities.
Contact Our Illinois Modification Lawyers Today
Do you have questions about seeking a modification after your divorce? One of our experienced Cook County modification attorneys can assist you today. Contact Arami Law, Inc. to get started on your case.