Life’s circumstances can change after an original Illinois divorce decree is signed. Illinois law allows some areas of the agreement to be modified after it is finalized, even many years following the divorce. Understanding which areas can be modified and which cannot may help divorcees to adapt arrangements to new life conditions.
Shifting Parenting Responsibilities
One area that is changeable after a divorce decree is the allocation of parental responsibilities. As children grow and needs change, the parenting plan often needs to adjust to accommodate those changes.
Parenting plans are typically created with an attorney during the height of the divorce process. During this time, hurt feelings and anger can impact decision making. As parents have the chance to cool down and re-evaluate the choices, they may find that unfair judgments were made and they need to make some changes.
Parenting schedules may also need to be modified as work responsibilities and schedules change. A child’s opinion, especially as a child gets older, can impact some aspects of the custody arrangements as well. The courts will typically consider modifications as long as they are within the best interests of the child.
Spousal Maintenance Payments
Spousal maintenance payments are financial support paid from the higher-earning spouse to the other. Spousal maintenance is not intended to be life-long support. Instead, it is intended to help the lower-income earner get on his or her feet after divorce. If the receiving party remarries or makes no effort to become self-sufficient, the paying party can petition the court to review the arrangements to see if they need to be modified or discontinued.
Changes to Child Support Agreements
Finally, one area that can change after a divorce decree is finalized is the child support agreement. In 2017, Illinois child support laws changed from charging a percentage of the payor’s income to basing the payments on an income share. This sharing is based on the income of both parents and the parenting time each receives. Generally, the more parenting time a parent has, the less child support he or she must pay.
Child support is one area that actually changes fairly often because income can change and shift. If the parent who is paying child support has a significant increase or decrease in income, the child support order may be able to be adjusted. Either parent can petition the court to make this change. A family law attorney is an excellent resource for understanding when these changes are warranted.