Divorces and separations can be emotionally overwhelming. Especially when a child is involved. In Illinois, it is always possible to ask the court to change a custody order, but getting a judge to agree to make a change isn’t always a straightforward process.
There are several ways that a child custody arrangement (also known as Parenting Time) can come about in Illinois. The parents of a child can develop their own agreement and then have it approved by a court. Or, the court can order custody based on the state’s laws.
Either way, there could come a time when one or both parents wish to change the arrangement in place. Here’s a look at what constitutes a “substantial change in circumstances” that would allow an agreement to be modified.
Modifications to Child Support Orders
In Illinois, a temporary child support order that has been entered while a child support proceeding is pending may be modified any time before the entry of a final judgment. Child support that has been established by a final judgment may be modified at any time from the entry of the order until the termination of the obligor parent’s obligation to pay child support under the order.
Although child support may be modified at any time, a “substantial change in circumstances” must be demonstrated in order for the child support obligation to be modified. If you file a petition to modify a child support order based on “substantial change in circumstances” the child support obligation in question can be modified retroactively to the filing date of the petition, but can not have an earlier effective date.
Illinois child support obligations can only be modified by filing a petition for increase or decrease in child support with the court that has jurisdiction over your case. The petition should state the basis for the request for modification explaining the change in child support obligation that you are requesting from the court.
Because you are seeking modification of an existing order, you do not need to serve the petition by the sheriff. You can serve notice of the petition by mail at the responding party’s last known address. Note: if the petition seeks other action by the court other than the modification of child support, such as a change in the allocation of parental time and responsibility, the petition must be served by certified mail 30 days prior to the date of the hearing.
If you are seeking child support modification after a final judgment has been entered in your case, the notice must be delivered to the responding party, as opposed to his or her attorney, because the attorney’s representation is deemed to have ended at the entry of the final order.
You should note that you cannot use self help to modify child support in Illinois. If the other party fails to comply with visitation rights, you are not entitled to suspend your child support payments without obtaining an order from the court.
Child Support Payments & Appeals
If you are appealing the final order in your child support case, you are still required to pay child support according to the terms of that order while the appeal is pending. However, you can request the court that entered the order to modify your child support obligations during the appeal process based on a showing of “substantial change in circumstances.
Reasons for Modification of Child Support in Illinois
The court has discretion to modify child support obligations based on either a substantial change of circumstances, upon a showing that the modification is necessary to provide for the healthcare needs of the child, or upon a showing of a substantial deviation between the child support obligation and the guidelines set forth by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“the IMDMA”).
Child support modifications can be modified without a showing of a substantial change in circumstances if the petitioner can show that the obligor’s child support obligations differ from the guidelines set forth in the IMDMA by more than 20%, but no less than $10.00 per month, unless the court that entered the existing order intentionally deviated from the amounts shown in the guidelines.
However, this option is only available to individuals who are receiving child support enforcement services from the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services and whose child support order was entered more than 36 months prior to seeking modification.
Those who may request a review include:
- Non-Custodial Parent: the parent who does not live with the child(ren),
- Custodial Parent/Caretaker: the parent/caretaker who lives with the child(ren),
- Healthcare and Family Services, or
- Another state’s child support agency.
It’s important to remember that all existing orders will remain in effect until a court or an administrative agency modifies the order. Your support order may be modified (increased or decreased) based on the income of the non-custodial parent and state law. Hiring an attorney highly experienced in family law will help you understand your legal options and create a plan for what comes next.
Masters Law Group LLC focuses on helping clients assert their rights to further the best interests of their children. We help clients put aside their grief and educate them about their options in Child Support modifications and Allocation of Parental Responsibilities. If you need to request modification of parenting time in Illinois, contact us here today to schedule a consultation.