For many families in which the parents have divorced, the parenting plan must evolve over time to fit changing life circumstances. When both parents agree to the change, they can ask for a schedule modification at any time. In the case of conflict, either parent can petition the court for a change if at least one year has passed since the court order.

Follow this process to change your parenting plan in Illinois.

Understanding possible changes

Aspects of the parenting plan you may want to change include:

  • Who your child lives with on a day-to-day basis
  • Who pays child support and/or the amount
  • The parenting time schedule
  • The right to make decisions about the child’s daily life

Petitioning the court

When both parents agree to the change, they should still petition the court to update the legal parenting order. This requires submitting the Petition for Modification of Parenting Plan in the county where the child lives most of the time with details about your desired schedule or arrangement. When the other parent does not agree to the proposed change, the court will schedule a hearing at which both parents can present their positions.

Demonstrating changed circumstances

The court requires the parent who submitted the petition to prove that circumstances have changed. For example, you must demonstrate that you have relocated closer to your child and are able to take on more parenting time, or that you lost your job and require a decrease in child support. However, minor changes in the parenting schedule and/or changes that have already taken effect for at least six months do not require you to show changed circumstances.

If a parent has not seen the child for more than 12 months and/or has a history of domestic violence, he or she may not request a change in parental responsibility. In most other cases, Illinois preserves the child’s right to have a relationship with both parents.