If you are currently involved in a case in the Chicago domestic relations division and have children, you have likely heard about an Allocation Judgment or “parenting plan”. The number one question most people have when contemplating the ramifications of an Allocation Judgment is how long will it last?
The answer – until your child/children are 18 years old.
Well, what if things change in a year or two years or even in the next 16 years (if your children are really small), can I change the Allocation Judgment then?
In Illinois, an Allocation Judgment can only be modified at any time by agreement of both parties. This means that at any time after the Allocation Judgment has been entered, if you and the other parent agree to modify the terms of the Allocation Judgment to something that is in the best interest of your child, you can return to court and enter into an Agreed Order modifying the terms of your original agreement. With that said, a Court will need to review the changes and the terms of the Agreed Order to ensure the well-being of your child/children, however, the court will give deference to a parent’s wishes in this circumstance, especially given that both parents are in agreement.
An Allocation Judgment can also be modified at any time, absent an agreement if the Court determines that the child’s emotional, mental, or physical wellbeing has been harmed or is at serious risk of being harmed. If, at any time after the entry of an Allocation Judgment, you believe that your child is in serious harm or at risk of being in serious harm as a result of the other parent, you must file the appropriate pleading with the court requesting the appropriate relief. It will then be up the Court and any ancillary court appointed persons (i.e., Guardian Ad Litem, Child Representative, 604(b) evaluator, etc.) to determine whether there is any merit to your claims and determine if a modification is necessary and in the best interest of your child/children.
The third and final way an Allocation Judgment can be modified is upon the showing of a substantial change in circumstance. However, unlike the two methods shown above, a parent can only petition the court requesting a modification on a substantial change after two (2) years have passed. For the purposes of this method, a substantial change in circumstance can range from a substantial change in one parents lifestyle which no longer accommodates the current parenting time schedule (i.e., significant changes in work schedule, travel schedule, location of residence, etc.), one parents lack of involvement (i.e., failure to cooperate in decision-making, failure to exercise parenting time, etc.), or even changes to the child’s schedule and lifestyle (i.e., enrollment in school, enrollment in extracurricular activities, changes in behavior or relationship with one parent, etc.). If you believe that a significant change in circumstances has occurred and you believe this change has substantially affected the best interest of your child, you can petition the court to have the Allocation Judgment modified.
Whether you are currently contemplating entering into an Allocation Judgement or you are looking to modify the terms of an existing Allocation Judgment, it is important that you consult with an experienced attorney to help you navigate this process. The attorneys at Ward Family Law, LLC are highly experienced in entering into and modifying Allocation Judgment and would love to speak with you. Please contact Jennifer R. Ward for scheduling of your initial consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like an attorney to contact you for a free consultation, please complete this form.