Modifying Child Custody
For numerous reasons, a parent may wish modify a child custody determination. While under most circumstances a modification of a child custody judgment is difficult to obtain, it is possible. Understanding the process of modifying a child custody judgment is important for parents who believe their child would benefit under a different custody plan.
Demonstrating Modification is Necessary
The court retains continuing jurisdiction to modify a child custody judgment. However, under most circumstances, modification of a child custody judgment will not be considered until after two years have passed since an original custody judgment is entered—it is believed that giving children the greatest amount of stability after a decision has been made is most beneficial for them. Under Illinois law, the only way a child custody judgment may be modified earlier than two years is if a court permits it on the basis of affidavits that there is reason to believe the child's present environment may endanger seriously his or her physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
In order to obtain a modification of custody where sole custody was previously granted, it must be shown—by clear and convincing evidence based on facts that have arisen since the judgment or that were unknown to the court at the time the judgment was entered—that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or of his or her custodian. In the case of joint custody, it must be shown that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or either or both parties having custody.
However, whether for sole or joint custody, it must also be shown that modification is necessary in order to serve the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of the child, the court will consider several factors which may include the following:
- The wishes of the child's parents;
- The wishes of the child; and
- The child's adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
Alternatively, parents can agree to terminate a joint custody arrangement. In that case, the court will terminate the arrangement and make any modification it deems to be in the best interests of the child. However, for all custody determinations, Illinois law does not allow a child to choose where or with whom to live. Still, a child's input is given consideration, with greater weight given to a child with a higher age, intellect, and level of maturity.
Help with Child Custody
As a parent, you want the best for your children. Therefore, you may believe that a change in a custody arrangement is necessary. If you would like more information about the process for modifying child custody, please reach out to one of our skilled Illinois family law attorneys at 630-665-7300. At MKFM Law, we provide compassionate representation for individuals through all aspects of divorce, including child custody and support.