Post-decree modification attorneys understand that life undergoes changes over time, and the decree initially issued by the court after your divorce settlement may not be applicable for the long term. For some people, this change is drastic as they get remarried, move out of the city or state, get better jobs, or lose their jobs, which require modification in court orders to adjust to their current circumstances.
This calls for a post-decree modification in which you request the court to reevaluate your case and make adjustments accordingly. Modification can be related to spousal support, child support, and visitation, and sometimes it is to address the non-performance of a child support obligation. There are also situations when the ex-spouse may refuse to accept your request for modification, in which case you may have to resort to post-decree enforcement.
At Keller Legal Services, our Post-decree modification attorneys work closely with clients to understand their specific situation and needs and devise a legal strategy to ensure their enforcement and modification issues are addressed promptly. We have over 30 years of experience in representing clients in Illinois and know the profound effect family law matters can have on our clients’ lives. After carefully evaluating your case, we prepare solid evidence to produce in front of the court in order to demonstrate the changes in circumstances since the issuance of the original divorce decree.
There is always a question of what issues can be addressed in post-divorce matters. Some common situations where you may need to request the court to modify its initial orders are:
Parenting time and decision-making authority should be allocated in the initial divorce decree. However, life does not standstill. Many people soon find that the initial parenting plan simply does not work for either the parents or the child. Over the years, one or both parents could change jobs and work schedules. The children can also develop different routines, with after-school activities making it harder for them to see their parents. When the parenting plan stops working for you, a request to modify parental allocation might be in order.
Under Illinois law, courts always value stability. If the current child custody order seems to be working, judges are extremely hesitant to change it. Whether you can request a modification depends on what you are seeking to change: decision-making authority or parenting time.
Under Section 610.5, a parent cannot request a change in decision-making responsibilities during the first two years after an order has been entered. The only exceptions are if both parents agree or the child is endangered.
Endangerment is hard to show. Essentially, you need solid proof the child faces a risk of serious physical, mental, or emotional harm. After two years, however, parents have greater leeway to request a change if they can show a substantial change in circumstances.
If parents want to change the parenting time—i.e., when they see the children—then Illinois law is not so strict. They can request a change to parenting time at any point without a showing of endangerment.
This is an area where parents can often work out minor tweaks to a parenting plan—unless relations between them have completely broken down. At that point, reach out to one of our post-divorce modification attorneys in DuPage County for assistance.
Everyone’s income fluctuates from time to time. Nevertheless, Illinois is not eager to review child support orders each time your paycheck rises or falls by $10. Instead, there needs to be a legitimate reason to request a review.
If a court established the child support order, then the order should state how frequently a judge will review it. Every two years is fairly common. If an administrative agency established the order, then it will be reviewed every three years.
In other situations, there needs to be proof of a “substantial change” in either parent’s income or expenses. For example, the parent paying child support might have lost his or her job. Or the parent who is receiving child support might have seen a dramatic increase in income, which might support lowering the amount paid each month.
It is not always easy to determine whether there has been a large enough change to warrant a modification. Meet with our post-divorce modification attorneys in DuPage County to review.
Illinois law also strictly limits when a spousal support award can be modified. Generally, under 750 ILCS 5/510, awards can be modified for:
Death and remarriage are fairly obvious. But what of cohabitation? Essentially, this means that the recipient is living in a romantic relationship with someone else. Illinois sees no reason why someone should continue to receive support from an ex-spouse when they are sharing resources with a new partner.
Some people hide their new relationships, which can make proving cohabitation difficult. They often hide the new relationship precisely because they are afraid of having their spousal support terminated. Judges will consider many factors, such as how long the couple has been in a relationship and the amount of time they spend together.
Sometimes, issues also arise with remarriage. The law requires that spouses promptly notify their ex of their intent to marry. Some fail to do so—perhaps to continue to draw support. One of our Post-decree modification attorneys might need to go into court and vindicate your right to halt payments due to remarriage.
At Keller Legal Services, we offer effective legal counsel and representation services to clients regarding support and custody enforcement matters. If your ex-spouse is not complying with any point of the divorce decree, we can help you take the necessary measures for petitioning the court to review this matter. In addition, if you are being falsely accused of violating the divorce decree, we can help you in this respect and defend your position. We will work with you closely to get the best possible outcome for your particular situation.
Enforcement issues often arise in the context of the denial of visitation. One parent might refuse to transport the children so that they can be with our client. The parent usually offers up a web of excuses—anything from the child is sick to having car trouble. However, our client is denied their right to see their children.
If you are being denied visitation, remember to fully document that you were willing and able to take the children. This might mean going to the drop-off location and having proof that you were there. This way, our Post-decree modification attorneys can argue to a judge that you have fulfilled your end of the bargain.
I no longer have any contact with my children. Can I stop paying child support?
No. Parents must continue to support their children until a judge or administrative agency changes the child support order. And the parental obligation to support your children has nothing to do with whether you see them. That’s your choice. But the law will still require that you pay financial support.
Can I give up my parental rights to stop paying child support?
No. The state might seek to terminate parental rights for various reasons. But parents do not have the option to give up their parental rights simply to avoid paying child support.
Will I still pay child support if my ex’s new husband adopts the children?
This is the one situation where we see the state agree that a parent can give up his or her parental rights. Essentially, another parent is waiting in the wings to adopt the child.
My ex is intentionally keeping the children from me. Can you help?
An attorney can be a big help in this situation. Divorce decrees, including parenting plans, are not suggestions made by a judge. Instead, parents are expected to follow the plan or else seek a modification. If your ex is deliberately withholding the children, then you can seek sanctions in court. The key is to always document the reasons given for why you cannot see the children and prove you were willing and able to see them.
Unfortunately, headaches do not end after you receive your divorce decree. For a free consultation with one of our experienced DuPage and Kane County Family Lawyers, contact our offices today at 630-505-1515.