The Illinois Supreme Court has developed expansive rules to ensure child custody agreements are expedited, and it is within the court’s discretion to make final custody awards in accordance with statutory requirements. Illinois public policy discourages modifying child custody agreements too frequently, and there are limitations on the circumstances in which you can seek custody modifications. The first and most serious restriction on seeking modification of a child custody order is the limitation in almost all circumstances preventing you from seeking modification of a custody order within two years of entry.
That said, life is full of unforeseen circumstances, and there are times when a parent must seek to modify a previously ordered custody arrangement. If you find yourself in this circumstance, you need dedicated child custody attorneys to help you navigate the process.
If you are seeking to institute a custody modification proceeding and it has not yet been two years since the entry of a prior custody order, there are very limited circumstances under which you can do this successfully. Any motion to modify the custody order, if made before two years has passed, must have affidavits attached. The affidavits must show that the moving party (you) has good reason to believe that the child is in an environment that could seriously endanger his or her physical health, mental health, emotional health, or moral health. Serious endangerment is the standard, and it must be proven by clear and convincing evidence, so that most child custody determinations will have stability and early modifications will only be made in extreme circumstances.
You face an uphill battle modifying a child custody order even after two years has passed. If you are seeking to modify custody, even after two years passed, you still must prove by clear and convincing evidence that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” since the prior order was entered. Further, that substantial change in circumstances had to either be nonexistent or unknown at the time the present custody order was entered into. If the circumstances already existed before the order being challenged was entered, then it cannot be a substantial change in circumstance.
Even if you are able to meet this burden, you will also have to overcome the stability factor, which is considered by the court in all custody modification proceedings. The stability factor looks at the child’s adjustment to home, school, and their community, and for obvious reasons this factor usually favors the current primary custodian of the child.
If you would like to modify an existing child custody order, you need tough and experienced legal assistance. If you live in Lyle, Lake Forest, or the Chicago metro area, and you need to modify a child custody order, contact the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group today to schedule a no obligation, complimentary consultation.
100 Saunders Rd.
Lake Forest, IL 60045
3333 Warrenville Rd.
Lisle, IL 60532
77 W. Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60601
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