How Often Can My Parenting Plan Be Revised?
In Illinois, during a divorce, couples with children enter into a parenting plan. Before 2016, this document would be referred to as a custody agreement; however, an Illinois law was passed in 2016 that swapped out the word “custody” for “parenting plan“. A parenting plan is a document that includes all the information on who will make decisions for the child. The plan includes the following information:
- Where the child lives
- Time the child spends with each parent
- Which parent is responsible for making major decisions in their children’s lives
- How the child will be transported to and from each parent
- Rules dictating how far away a parent can move with the children
The parenting plan is considered binding by the courts unless a court finds that it is not in the best interests of the children.
The plan can be changed when needed if the parents agree, or if not if the judge determines the requested change is in the child’s best interest.
Reasons the plan can be changed include:
- If it is found there has been a large change in circumstances, then a change to the plan may be ordered by the court. For example, the parent with whom a child primarily lives with moves 25 – 50+ miles away.
- If there has not been a large modification in the plan but both parents agree to the change in plan.
- If a child is being harmed.
If there has not been a large change in circumstances, the parents don’t agree, and there have been no allegations of abuse, then your lawyer can argue to the court that changing the plan is in the best interest of the children.
In order to change a plan without the evidence of a substantial change in circumstances, your lawyer can point to a change in the child’s emotional or developmental needs, the child’s wishes to spend more or less time with a parent, or prove that one parent is in violation of the parenting plan.
Petitioning the court to change the plan can include modifications such as visitation time and how many nights per week a child spends with each parent.
It is important to have a court enforceable parenting plan as without it, if one parent decides not to follow the plan, the other parent will have no ability to enforce the parenting plan. By having a parenting plan approved by the court, it provides protection not just for the children but for the parents as well.
Parenting plans can be very nuanced and due to their importance it’s imperative to have a divorce lawyer who is fully in your corner. Contact your divorce lawyer today if you have any questions regarding revising your parenting plan.