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Going Back to Court

Changing Court Orders


Child custody and changing support – either child support or spousal maintenance – are two of the most common reasons people petition to change a court order after a divorce. There are grounds for custody modification and child support modification, and your Chicago family law attorney can help you determine whether the grounds you have are sufficient – and if they are, she can help you reach out to the court to ask for a change .

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Grounds for Custody Modification and How to Get Back Custody of Your Child

You can’t change parental custody within the first 2 years of the original order unless the child is in danger – mental, moral or physical – or his or her environment could significantly impair emotional development. You can, however, modify parenting time without showing serious endangerment if either parent’s circumstances have changed so much that a new agreement will serve the best interest of the child.

You can only change custody or parenting time if you can provide facts that things have changed since you agreed to your existing parenting plan, and you’ll have to show that you didn’t anticipate those changes at the time you divorced or entered the parenting plan.

Changing parental responsibilities or child custody requires you to ask a judge to modify an existing order. In all cases, you must show the court why it’s in your child’s best interest to make the change, whether you’re changing physical or legal custody.

Some grounds for custody modification may include:

  • If both parents agree it’s best for the child to change custody
  • If one parent marries or moves in with a sex offender
  • If the environment the child is in seriously endangers his or her moral, mental or physical health
  • If the environment the child is in significantly impairs his or her emotional development
  • Changes you may be able to make include:
  • The child moving in with the other parent
  • The other parent making day-to-day decisions about the child’s health, welfare and other important issues
  • The way each parent spends time with the child

If both parents agree, the judge might also agree – but if one parent doesn’t agree to the change, the one who wants it must prove in court that circumstances have changed significantly enough that custody modification is necessary.

Grounds for Child Support Modification 

It can be difficult to get a court to support child support modification. Usually, the original order for child support stays in place until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school (whichever occurs later). Some grounds for child support modification that a court will consider include:

  • A substantial and ongoing change in circumstances, like how much money either parent makes (such as the loss of a job), a change in living expenses, a major move that puts one parent farther away, or a change in health insurance rates
  • A 20 percent difference in the amount of an existing order and the amount that the receiving parent would get if child support were calculated today, provided that at least 3 years have passed since the last time the court ruled on child support
  • A need to provide for a child’s healthcare needs through insurance or other means

Changing Maintenance

You may be able to modify your existing spousal maintenance order. You’ll have to show that your circumstances have changed enough that the current order is not feasible. Some grounds for changing an alimony order may include the loss of a job or the remarriage of the spouse who receives maintenance.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Changing a Court Order?

Child custody and child support can be very complicated issues, so for most people, it makes sense to work with an experienced attorney who understands the situation and how the laws apply in each case.

I can help you modify custody, child support or other court orders if you have sufficient grounds to do so. Call me at 312-818-5279 for a complimentary consultation and I’ll be happy to answer your questions about custody modification and other issues.