While the allocation of parental responsibilities is finalized with an Allocation Judgement entered in a divorce or parentage case, this enforceable court order is modifiable under certain circumstances. However, there is a specific process that must be followed.
If two parents agree to a change of parental responsibilities, they can make these modifications at any time. If they don’t agree, modifications cannot be made until two years after the initial parental responsibilities order was finalized, unless the wellbeing of the child is at stake. When parents don’t agree, it will need to prove to a judge that new circumstances warrant a modification. Here are steps to take when attempting to make parental responsibility changes.
Retrieve the Existing Parental Responsibilities Order
To make changes, the parent should obtain the existing parental responsibility order. This order includes the date of the order, the arrangement between both parents, the case number, the parenting schedule, who pays child support, and the dollar amount and frequency of the support.
Fill Out Forms for Modifications
Once a parent has obtained the original order, he or she must fill out parental responsibility modification forms and make two copies of each. These forms include:
- Notice of Motion
- Motion to Modify Parental Responsibilities
- Child Support forms
- Affidavit if the original order was signed less than two years prior
File Forms with the Court
Next, the parent should file the Affidavits and Motion with the office of the Circuit Clerk where the original allocation was first decided and pay court filing fees or obtain waivers.
Inform the Other Parent
After filing for modifications, the parent must inform the other party by mailing a stamped copy of the motion, affidavit, and hearing date. A stamped Certificate of Mailing should be sent as well.
Attend the Hearing
On the day of the scheduled hearing, the parent who filed for changes should explain these modifications to the judge. After both parents have spoken, the judge will then make a decision based on the best interests of the child(ren). Many times multiple court dates are required before a matter is resolved.
Prepare an Order Following the Hearing
Following each court appearance, the parent who requested modification should prepare an order that details what occurred in court and what will follow. He or she should then give it to the clerk and wait for a stamped copy signed by the judge.