The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) was revised on January 1, 2016, and there are many changes. One of the biggest changes to the IMDMA is the statute governing modification of allocation of parental responsibilities, formerly known as “custody” under the old version of the law. Under the old law, when you would enter a Custody Judgment, you would not be able to modify the award of custody for two years after the Judgment was entered, unless you could prove endangerment to the children. However, you could modify parenting time and other minor issues relative to the Judgment, just not the allocation of custody. So, if you wanted more parenting time, you were able to file a motion within the two years that the Judgment was entered and request it. Under the newer version of the law, this may not be true.
Section 750 ILCS 5/600 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act defines all major terms of art that are used within the statute. Section 750 ILCS 5/610.5, which governs modification, specifically talks about not modifying “parental responsibilities” within two years from entry of a Judgment, unless you can show endangerment to the minor children. It is important to understand what “parental responsibilities” constitutes though, to understand what exactly is non-modifiable for two years after entry. Upon further examination of 750 ILCS 5/600, one sees that “parental responsibilities” is defined as significant decision making authority as well as parenting time. So, by definition, the revised IMDMA does not allow you to modify substantially parenting time within two years of entry of an Allocation Judgment. This is a major change from the old law. Now, there are a few exceptions to this rule, but we will leave that for a later blog post. For now, it is best to truly agree with the parenting time schedule that you enter into when the Allocation Judgment is entered, knowing that absent an agreement or a minor modification, you may not be able to modify your parenting time for two years without an endangerment. It will take case law to further clarify exactly what a “minor” modification constitutes, but until we have that available, we are better safe than sorry.