Illinois Modification of Child Custody & Support Attorney
A final order of divorce typically contains final orders for custody and support, but sometimes circumstances change which make those orders difficult to follow, impractical or no longer in the best interests of the parties or their children. The court’s orders on custody and support following trial remain subject to revision in appropriate circumstances until the later of when a child reaches 18 years of age or graduates from high school. As with other phases of custody and support litigation, parents need sure counsel when it comes to modification. The Carol Stream family law attorneys at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt, P.C. provide that level of quality advice and effective representation necessary when seeking or challenging a modification of custody or support in Illinois.
Post-Divorce Modification in Illinois
Support and custody are both subject to modification upon a proper showing of “changed circumstances.” In other words, if circumstances have significantly changed since the entry of the last order, and a change in custody or support would be in the children’s best interest as a result, the court will modify the custody or support. The party seeking modification has the burden of proving the changed circumstances. The parents can also agree to a modification and submit that agreement to the court for approval. However, unless there are exigent circumstances demanding an immediate change of custody for the child’s welfare, a parent cannot petition for a change in custody within the first 2 years following a divorce judgment being entered.
There are as many potential changed circumstances as there are different types of parents and family situations, making it impossible to catalog them all here. However, common examples of changed circumstances that might be invoked to seek a change in custody include:
- A change in the physical or mental health of the custodial parent, including substance abuse;
- Domestic violence in the custodial household;
- Serial relationships or marriages of the custodial parent.
Circumstances that might be invoked to seek a change in child support include:
- A significant and sustained change in a parent’s financial condition, such as changes in income, expenses, health insurance, or employment status;
- Changes in education or extra-curricular activity expenses.
Our Carol Stream family law attorneys consult thoroughly with our clients to determine the factors that are important to them and that may trigger a change in circumstances justifying a change in support or modification. Anticipation of such changes can give a non-custodial parent a leg up when seeking modification. We therefore counsel our clients to alert us as early as possible when they observe or learn of anything that they believe represents a material change of circumstances since the prior order.
Move-away cases are a specific type of modification, in which the custodial parent seeks the permission of the court to relocate with the children outside Illinois. The court can grant such permission only when the custodial parent demonstrates that doing so is in the best interests of the child.
Considerations include: (a) the non-custodial parent’s existing visitation rights; (b) whether the non-custodial parent could maintain a reasonable visitation schedule following the move; (c) the degree to which the move is likely to improve the general quality of life of the custodial parent and the children; and (d) the motives of each parent.
These considerations include both objective and subjective factors, meaning parents have to be well prepared to present their motives and aspirations to the court and to back up their beliefs about the anticipated impact of the move.
Get Help with Modification of Custody and Support from Experienced Carol Stream Divorce Lawyers
Orders for custody and support can affect you and your children for years to come. They cannot be changed without court order, which requires going back to court and filing motions and possibly attending a hearing. For help with a proposed modification in Illinois courts, contact Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt, P.C. at our offices in Carol Stream, St. Charles and Chicago.