When a marriage ends in divorce, there are a number of issues that require a couple’s consideration. The divorcing parties must address the division of marital property and assets, arrangements for any children they may have, such as custody, visitation and child support, as well as the issue of spousal maintenance or support. Many couples are able to negotiate these concerns on their own, presenting their agreement for approval, while others battle in court for weeks and months, often forcing a judge to enter a carefully considered order. Once a divorce agreement or decree is finalized, however, the story does not necessarily end there. In many cases, post-divorce modifications are required to continue addressing ever-changing life situations.
What Can Be Modified?
A divorce agreement or decree is generally based on the circumstances as they exist at the time of the divorce. This is especially true in divorces that are primarily litigated in court, as opposed to privately negotiated. A couple who is able to cooperate effectively, whether in mediation or by other means, may be able to better account for potential future changes. The court, however, is bound by law to consider the present situation and issues of fact when making decisions related to a divorce decree. Therefore, as time goes on and situations evolve, post-divorce modifications may be necessary for:
- Child custody orders;
- Child support agreements;
- Joint parenting agreements (JPAs) and visitation arrangements; and
- Spousal maintenance or alimony orders.
What Makes Modification Necessary?
Certainly, many individuals are able to civilly coexist and even cooperate to an extent with their ex-spouses. However, a divorce decree and the accompanying orders or arrangements are legally enforceable documents. In the event, then, that a post-divorce modification is required, it is best to address the changes before the court, rather than a verbal agreement between parties. Situational or life changes that may necessitate a post-divorce modification include, but are not limited to:
- Substantial change to income or earning ability of either party;
- Illness, injury, or disability;
- Substantial change in the needs of a child;
- Intent to move or relocate, either out of state or a significant distance; and
- Remarriage of either party.
Get Help for Your Case
If you are subject to a custody or support order following your divorce, and would like to pursue a post-divorce modification for any reason, our team of skilled professionals is prepared to help you through the process. Contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney today for a free consultation. We understand that situations change and we will work with you to make sure your needs are met and your rights are protected.