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Oak Park IL family law attorneyDuring the Illinois divorce process, parents have an important responsibility to fill out a “Parenting Plan” document which states the details of parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities between the two parties. Parents may cooperate in the creation of a single parenting plan, or each parent may feel the need to draw up their own plan during the divorce case. With either approach, once the divorce is finalized and a plan is approved by the judge, it becomes legally binding. However, if your circumstances change after the divorce, you may be able to modify the parenting plan.

When It May Be Necessary to Modify a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is not necessarily set in stone. If you, your former spouse, or your children go through major life changes after your divorce, a judge may agree to modify the plan. Here are a few situations that may warrant a modification.

  • One parent moves out of state.

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Oak Park, IL divorce attorney property division

It can sometimes take a long time for a couple to come to the realization that their marriage should end. Regardless of the reasons for the relationship breakdown, sometimes it is for the best. The legal process of ending a matrimonial union involves many steps and decisions regarding various issues. Divorce laws vary by state, but in Illinois, the division of property follows the equitable distribution method. This means that marital property and assets are divided in a fair way, but not necessarily 50/50. Any property that is acquired during the marriage is subject to division. However, if your ex-spouse did not disclose all of his or her financial information, the divorce settlement is likely unfair. With the help of an experienced divorce attorney, you may request a modification of the property division orders.  

Hiding or Dissipating Assets

It is possible that your former spouse hid or dissipated assets toward the end of your marriage in order to gain a financial advantage in the final proceedings. For example, if there is less money in a bank account, there is less to split. There are several ways that someone can engage in these deceitful behaviors. Spending or wasting funds after the relationship has irretrievably broken down is considered dissipation of assets. Hiding property by putting it in another party’s name or assigning it a lower value are examples of ways that a spouse can be untruthful during the divorce process. 

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Hillside child support attorneyChild support in Illinois is determined using what is known as the “Income Shares” model. This calculation method takes into account each parent’s net income, and, in cases involving shared parenting, it also takes into account the amount of parenting time assigned to each parent. A parent’s child support obligation is intended to be reasonably affordable, while still providing the financial support the other parent needs to cover child-related expenses. However, if circumstances change, the amount of child support a parent pays may no longer be appropriate, and a child support modification may be necessary.

Changing Your Illinois Child Support Order

Child support orders are legally-enforceable court orders that must be closely adhered to. If a parent does not pay his or her child support in full and on-time, he or she may face serious consequences. If you need to decrease your child support obligation, or if you are the recipient parent, and you need to increase the amount of child support you receive, you will need to petition the court for a child support modification. Illinois courts may modify an existing child support order if:

  • There has been a “substantial change in circumstances” (defined in the next paragraph); or,
  • A modification is needed to provide for the child’s healthcare needs; or,
  • There is a considerable difference between the current child support obligation and the guidelines established by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), and the deviation from the guidelines was not an intentional decision by the court.

Defining “Substantial Change in Circumstances”

Typically, a child support order is eligible for modification if a parent’s financial resources or the child’s financial needs have changed significantly. For example, if the paying parent (also known as the “obligor parent”) experiences a considerable increase in net income, his or her child support obligation may increase. Conversely, if the obligor parent loses his or her job, experiences a significant reduction in income, or experiences a significant increase in expenses, his or her child support obligation may decrease. However, the change in employment situation must have occurred in good faith - so if the parent voluntarily quit his or her job or took a position making less money to intentionally reduce his or her child support obligation, the court in these circumstances will most likely deny a modification request. An Illinois child support order may also be modified if the financial resources of the parent receiving support significantly increase or decrease. A substantial change in the allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time may also necessitate a child support modification.

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Oak Park, IL child custody attorney for parental relocationA parent’s worst fear is waking up one day and finding their child is gone. The only way that most parents can foresee this happening is if their child is abducted by a stranger. However, kidnapping can also be done by someone you know, including your child’s other parent. If one parent decides to move to a new location with the child without the other parent’s permission, they are kidnapping their own child. In some cases, parents may choose to move with their child without realizing that this could pose an issue, but it is important to understand that a distinct legal process must be followed in parental relocation cases.

What Is Parental Relocation?

The state of Illinois does not restrict parents from moving down the street or across town with their child, and many recently divorced parents will move from their previous residence to pursue a fresh start as a single parent. However, if a parent who has primary custody of their child, or who shares custody with the other parent, plans to move a certain distance, they must receive permission from either the other parent or from the court to ensure that both parents can continue to share in parental responsibilities and parenting time. The following situations are considered parental relocation under Illinois law:

  1. The child lives in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will County, and their new home will be more than 25 miles from their previous residence;
  2. The child lives in a different county than those listed above, and their new home will be more than 50 miles from their previous residence; or,
  3. The parent is moving outside of Illinois, and their new residence will be more than 25 miles from their previous residence.

How Can a Relocation Get Legally Approved?

There are multiple ways to have a parental relocation request approved, not all of which require going to court. Every intended relocation that falls into one of the 3 categories described above requires that an official request be filed with the court and sent to the child’s other parent. This notice must be provided 60 days before the intended move, and it should include the relocation date, the new address, and the intended length of stay if the move will not be permanent. 

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Hillside, IL divorce decree modification attorneyWhile some folks may believe that a divorce decree is a permanent and unchangeable legal document, there are actually many common circumstances that may call for modification of the decree. After all, life is rarely static, and you may experience a variety of life events and circumstances that might render your divorce decree unreasonable, invalid, or otherwise unfeasible. 

Typical Reasons to Change Spousal Support or Child Support

In the years following a divorce, myriad circumstances may change for one or both parties that would require post-decree modifications. This is quite common with spousal support and child support. Some common situations in which support may need to be adjusted after a divorce include:

  • An increase or reduction in income for either party;
  • Loss of employment;
  • Disability; and,
  • Health expenses from a major medical illness.

If either ex-spouse is faced with any of these situations, or if children experience issues which affect their ongoing needs, a post-decree modification may be necessary to adjust the amount of money one ex-spouse must pay to the other.

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