How Does the New Law Deal With Modification of the Parenting Plan or Allocation of Parenting Time?

Per the IMDMA as it stands today, a party can request a modification of custody within a two year period if there are any allegations of danger to the kids.  Otherwise, you would have to wait two years and claim substantial change in circumstances.  Furthermore, you would have to prove said allegations by clear and convincing evidence.

               With the new law that goes into effect January 1, 2015, a court is required to modify a parenting play or allocation judgment if necessary to serve the child’s best interests if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) a substantial change of circumstances has occurred with the child or of any parent caused by facts that have arisen since the entry of the existing parenting plan or allocation judgment or were not anticipated in the plan or judgment; or (2) that the existing allocation of parental responsibilities seriously endangers the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.

As a result, there is no longer a two-year waiting requirement.  Furthermore, the standard has been lowered to “preponderance of the evidence”, which will make it easier to obtain modifications of custody.

               The law further states that the court may modify a parenting plan or allocation judgment without a showing of changed circumstances if it is in the child’s best interests and any of the following circumstances occur: (1) the modification is minor; (2) the modification reflects the actual arrangement under which the child has been living (without parental objection) for the six months preceding the filing of the petition for modification.; (3) the modification is necessary to modify an agreed parenting plan or allocation judgment that the court would not have approved or ordered if the court had been aware of the circumstances at the time of the order or approval; or (4) the parties agree to the modification. 

               The effect will probably mean that there will be more litigation to request modifications of custody, especially if the two-year waiting requirement has been eliminated.   On the other hand, it will also provide more fairness for parents who wish to modify custody judgments but did not have sufficient evidence to meet the higher standard of clear and convincing evidence.  Although we have yet to see how the new law will play out starting January 1, 2016, it is important to evaluate any current case you may have pending with the new rules, as well as any potential modifications you would like to make in the future. 

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