Parents in Illinois are often unhappy with the final allocation of parental rights and responsibilities handed down by the court – or that have even been agreed to, as negotiating is an imperfect undertaking – as a result of a non-marital separation or divorce. Both parents usually want to spend as much time with their children as possible and to have a say in what happens with their education and healthcare.
Judges in Illinois have a difficult responsibility. They have to try to make sense of a family’s situation from the outside and establish a division of parental rights and responsibilities that works in the best interests of the children when child custody concerns are litigated by parents who can’t settle their differences outside of court.
Ultimately, a judge’s decision may not align with what either parent desires. When can a parent unhappy with their amount of parenting time they’ve been allocated ask the Illinois family courts to modify a custody order?
They may need to wait two years
The rules for an Illinois custody modification are somewhat restrictive when compared with many other states. With rare exceptions, parents usually need to wait at least two years from the date of the original ruling to request a modification hearing.
Even then, they will need proof that there have been substantial changes in circumstances. A new job schedule, an improved relationship with the children or even successful completion of substance abuse treatment could all warrant a request to modify one’s existing division of parental rights. Judges will typically only consider modifications before that two-year deadline passes in cases where the children are at imminent risk of harm because of neglect or abuse.
Someone requesting a modification, regardless of the circumstances, will typically need to convince a judge that the changes they have proposed would be in the best interests of the children. Learning about the Illinois rules that govern updates to family court orders may benefit those unhappy with their current arrangements.