Wakeman Law Group, PC Legal Blog

When can the Illinois family courts change a parenting plan?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2023 | Custody & Parenting Issues

It takes a lot of negotiations and/or very careful consideration by a judge to create a parenting plan for divorcing or separating parents in Illinois. Although judges and divorcing parents often try to create reasonable and appropriate parenting plans that detail parental responsibilities and rights while also clearly outlining a workable parenting schedule, arrangements in such documents may not work as well for the family as the parents or court might hope.

Sometimes, there may have been an oversight during the creation of the document that makes the plan less effective than it should be. Other times, changes to the family situation necessitate a review of a family’s parenting plan.

Parents can always mutually agree to alter the terms of their arrangement. But the courts only honor one-sided modification requests under certain circumstances. When can an Illinois family law judge consider modifying a parenting plan?

After a significant change in circumstances

Illinois state law has a very straightforward standard that family law judges can apply to any custody modification request. First, a judge needs to determine if there have been any noteworthy changes in household circumstances.

Significant changes might include one parent remarrying, the diagnosis of one child with a medical condition or a change of schools. Any significant shift in family circumstances that would influence the parenting schedule or the needs of the children might potentially justify a modification request. Sometimes, the process can be very quick and simple because the parents agree that the circumstances justify an adjustment to the existing parenting plan.

When parents do not agree, then a judge’s interpretation of the situation would become important. When parents disagree about the need to modify the existing division of parenting time and decision-making authority for their family, a judge will consider what would be best for the children given the current circumstances.

Someone’s chances of updating or fixing their parenting plan will likely depend on meeting the appropriate standards for modification and also presenting the case to the courts appropriately. Judges want to hear parents prioritizing the needs of their children. The way that someone presents their modification request and how they believe it would benefit the children can have a major impact on the likelihood of success.

Learning more about modifications and other child custody matters with the assistance of a legal professional can benefit parents who are worried about how divorce will affect their relationship with their children.