The Chicago Family Law Blog

Modifying Child Custody in IL: Getting the Court on Your Side

During a divorce, the parties have to determine custody and visitation, but those decisions aren't set in stone. It's possible to modify a child custody order long after the divorce is settled.

That doesn't mean the process is easy or you're guaranteed to get the arrangement you want. But if you can prove your case to the judge, it's possible to alter the custody and visitation arrangement.

It's not enough to prove that you just want more time with your children. The court will be looking for specific factors to determine whether to modify the custody order.

Before you start worrying about the proof, you have to consider timing. In Illinois, if a custody order was made within the last two years, the only way to modify it is if the child's present environment will seriously endanger his physical or mental health.

It's a hard standard to meet, and not liking your ex probably won't cut it. Plus, the whole point of the rule is to give kids stability, so it might be best to wait out the time.

If it's been more than two years since the last order was made, then you have to show a significant change in circumstances to justify a custody modification.

The "significant change" is really the key to modify child custody or visitation. What qualifies? Getting a new job or moving to a new place is certainly a change, and if it makes visitation difficult that could warrant modification.

Evidence that you've gotten your life in order or, alternatively, that your ex's household is not stable can be grounds for a change. If your child wants to change which parent has primary physical custody, that can also be used as evidence.

Unlike in other states, your child's preference alone won't be enough to change the custody order.

Courts will look at all the evidence and also at what is in the best interest of your child. Things that promote your child's happiness and safety are more likely to succeed over things that further one parent's needs or convenience.

Hopefully you and your ex can sit down together and balance your schedules to determine what's best for your child. But if not, call your lawyer to discuss modifying custody.

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