When Can Divorce Orders be Modified?

When Can Divorce Orders be Modified?

By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC

When a divorce order is entered, there is rarely an assumption among any of the parties that the order will work perfectly forever. The aim for a Chicago divorce order – such as an order for spousal maintenance or an allocation judgment – is for the order to remain effective for the foreseeable future so both parties do not need to return to court. However, various issues can arise that necessitate a modification. Most divorce order modifications are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA). In general, for any order to be modifiable, the parties must show there has been a substantial change in circumstances (which may vary – depending upon the type of order), although there are certain exceptions. We will provide you with more information about modifying an order after a divorce.

Modifying Child Support

To modify child support after a divorce, the party seeking to modify child support will need to show there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Parents have an obligation to support their children, and under the “income shares” model for calculating child support that Illinois uses, both parents are obligated to contribute to the overall child support obligation. However, if one of the parents loses his/her job or needs to take a different job that pays less money — for reasons that have nothing to do with a desire to avoid paying child support — then a court typically will consider a modification. However, in circumstances where a parent intentionally quits their job or takes a lesser-paying job to change the child support obligation, the court will impute income.

Modifying Parental Responsibilities

Like a child support modification, parents typically need to show a substantial change in circumstances to modify parental responsibilities. However, an allocation judgment or parenting plan may be modified more easily in situations where both parents agree to the modification. For example, if one parent needs to relocate for a job and the other parent agrees to a modification in the current allocation of parenting time, they can ask the court to sign off on that modification. In situations where one parent is seeking a modification and the other parent will not agree, the parent seeking the modification will need to prove that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred and the modification is in the best interests of the child.

In the latter type of situation, it is important to work with a lawyer who can gather the evidence you need to prove a modification is in the best interests of your child.

Modifying Spousal Maintenance

Somewhat like child support, spousal maintenance may be modifiable when one party can prove there has been a substantial change in circumstances. However, it is important to keep in mind that some orders make maintenance non-modifiable. In such a case, a modification will not be possible, even if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.

Contact a Chicago Divorce Lawyer for More Information

Do you have questions about modifying a divorce order? One of our experienced Chicago divorce attorneys can assist you. Do not hesitate to get in touch with our firm for more information. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC for more information about modifying a child support, spousal maintenance, or allocation judgment.