Modifying Custody, Parenting Time And Child Support

Illinois child custody laws changed significantly at the beginning of 2016. Along with changing how custody is awarded and/or modified, there have been major changes to the terminology used to discuss and determine custody.

Here is a quick explanation of some of the new terms:

  • Significant decision-making responsibility — The authority to make major decisions regarding your child (this used to be called legal custody)
  • Parenting time — A term that essentially replaces physical custody and visitation, as each parent is often allocated a certain amount of parenting time
  • Parenting plan and Allocation Judgment — The document that governs parenting time and outlines the specific rights and responsibilities of each parent
  • Modification of an order allocating parental responsibilities — The new term for custody modification
  • Parental responsibilities — A blanket term covering parenting time and decision-making authority

These terms can be confusing, especially because most Illinois residents are more familiar with the old terminology or terminology they may have heard on television or in movies. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about these changes, as well as how they could affect your particular case.

Modifying Custody (Parenting Time)

Under the new laws, Illinois Courts have a preference toward stability in the first two years after the entry of the original allocation of parental responsibilities. In short, this means it is very difficult to modify custody for the first two years. In order for a court to grant a parenting time modification, the parent seeking a modification would need to prove that the child's mental, emotional or physical health is in imminent danger in the child's present environment.

After the initial two-year window, the parent seeking modification needs to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances of the child or either parent, and that making the proposed modification would serve the best interests of the child.

Modifying Child Support

As in most states, child support in Illinois is calculated based on a financial formula. The resulting payment amount is assumed to be correct unless the child support obligor (the parent paying support) can demonstrate that the calculated amount is inappropriate.

After a child support award has gone into effect, either parent can petition to modify support. The petitioner must prove, however, that there has been a substantial change in circumstances — since the original order — sufficient to justify changing the award amount.

Contact Us To Speak With A Lawyer Today

From our office in Vernon Hills, Gauthier Family Law serves clients throughout Lake and McHenry counties. For a free discussion of your case with an experienced family law attorney, call us at 847-816-7781. You can also fill out our online contact form.