Many people are familiar with the terminology “custody” and “visitation” when thinking of child-related issues in dissolution and parentage matters. However, those are outdated terms. As of January 1, 2016, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) began using “allocation of parental responsibilities” instead. Parental responsibilities include parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the definitions for “parenting time” and “significant decision-making” prior to filing any pleadings seeking a modification of an existing Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment. The definitions can be found in 750 ILCS 5/600.
To modify an existing Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment regarding parenting time specifically, you must first refer to 750 ILCS 5/610.5. Section 610.5 explains that parenting time may be modified at any time, if you are able to show changed circumstances. The change in circumstances must be substantial enough that it necessitates a modification of the existing Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment to serve the best interests of the child. The Court must find by a preponderance of the evidence that a substantial change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or of either parent. This means that you must provide convincing evidence to the Court that proves the change in circumstances warrants a modification of the existing Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment, so that the child’s best interests are properly served. Remember that the substantial change in circumstances must have occurred after the entry of the existing Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment. Also, the substantial change in circumstances must not have been anticipated prior to the entry of the existing Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment.
Pursuant to Section 610.5(e), there are a few exceptions to the requirement of showing changed circumstances. One exception is when the parents agree to modify the existing Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment. As long as the proposed modification is in the child’s best interests, it is likely that the Court would grant the modification request.
If you are interested in seeking a modification to your existing Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment it is recommended that you speak to a qualified attorney.