A child’s schedule and yours will change dramatically as the child grows older and your life condition changes. You will need to know how you can change your parenting time or visitation in Chicago, Illinois.
If there is no previous Cook County court order you can file a Motion To Enter an Allocation of Parenting Responsibilities and Parenting Time. The court will consider what parenting time (formerly called visitation) you should be awarded based on the best interests of the child.
In the case of modifying an existing order, I always tell my clients, “As time goes by, you always get more time, you don’t get less time” but it is certainly not automatic.
If an order for parenting time or visitation already exists, you cannot change the parenting time for 2 years unless there’s one of two situations present:
- “There is reason to believe the child’s present environment may endanger seriously his or her mental, moral, or physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.” 750 ILCS 5/610.5(a). This is also known as “serious endangerment”
- “A showing of changed circumstances that necessitates modification to serve the best interests of the child.” 750 ILCS 5/610.5(a). This is also known as a “substantial change of circumstances”
You can only look back as far as the last order for a change in circumstances. “Courts in modification
proceedings allow the parties to present only the evidence going back to the latest petition for
modification in order to avoid the relitigation of matters already settled.” In re Marriage of
Connors, 303 Ill. App. 3d 219 (1999)
You do NOT need a substantial change of circumstances if you are entering an order reflecting how the parenting time or visitation is actually happening over the last 6 months. You are only allowed to do this if the parenting time was happening this way with both parents’ consent.
“The court may modify a parenting plan or allocation judgment without a showing of changed circumstances if (i) the modification is in the child’s best interests; and (ii) any of the following are proven as to the modification:
(1) the modification reflects the actual arrangement under which the child has been receiving care, without parental objection, for the 6 months preceding the filing of the petition for modification, provided that the arrangement is not the result of a parent’s acquiescence resulting from circumstances that negated the parent’s ability to give meaningful consent;
(2) the modification constitutes a minor modification in the parenting plan or allocation judgment;
(3) the modification is necessary to modify an agreed parenting plan or allocation judgment that the court would not have ordered or approved under Section 602.5 or 602.7 had the court been aware of the circumstances at the time of the order or approval; or
(4) the parties agree to the modification.” 750 ILCS 5/610.5(e)
It would be tough to argue that a modification of parenting time does not reflect the reality, that unknown facts existed at the time of the entry or that the parties do not agree to the change…but what is a “minor modification?”
Minor means really minor. “[I]t is commonly known that the term “minor” is synonymous with “small” or “inconsequential.”” In re Marriage of O’Hare, 2017 IL App (4th) 170091
A court cannot stop parties from requesting or agreeing to modifications in parenting time beyond what 750 ILCS 5/610.5(e) restricts.
Any “additional barrier would limit the parties’ ability to petition the court for relief concerning the best interests of their children, which, in turn, is not in the best interests of the children.” In re Marriage of Wendy S., 2020 IL App (1st) 191661
Any requirement that a court imposes in advance of consideration of a modification of parenting time is “an unauthorized procedure for any future modification of the modification.” In re Marriage of Valliere, 275 Ill. App. 3d 1095, 1103 (Ill. App. Ct. 1995)
If the two parents may agree to modify the parenting time and the court shall follow the parent’s agreement “unless it finds that the modification is not in the child’s best interest” 750 ILCS 5/610.5(d)
If there’s no agreement, the parties are required to attend mediation before the court will make a decision as to the change in parenting time and parenting responsibilities.
If the two parties still cannot come to an agreement after mediation then the court typically appoints a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or Child’s Representative to do an investigation as to what the child’s best interests are. The difference between a Guardian Ad Litem and a Child’s Representative is very minor but they both will go to your house, interview you, interview your child, even talk to teachers and friends to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The GAL or Child’s Representative will then make a recommendation to the judge regarding the final schedule of the child. The judge, in my experience, almost always follows that recommendation.
It is not wise to file a motion to modify without good cause. “Attorney’s fees and costs shall be assessed against a party seeking modification if the court finds that he modification action is vexatious or constitutes harassment. If the court finds that a parent has repeatedly filed frivolous motions for modification, the court may bar the parent from filing a motion for modification for a period of time” 750 ILCS 610.5(f)
Call my Chicago, Illinois law office to determine how you can change your parenting time and/or visitation.