modifying parenting time, Crystal Lake Family Law AttorneyParenting children with your former spouse can be a challenging experience, especially when the divorce was contentious. The way your spouse wants to parent may differ from your ideal choices, and this can cause legal problems as one or both parents decide to operate outside of the court ordered plan. However, there are steps that a parent can take to avoid disobeying court orders and still protect his or her children.

Modifications to orders granting parenting time are possible; however, in most cases the parents have to wait two years after the original order is entered before seeking modification, unless certain exceptions apply. In order to modify the parenting plan before the two years, the court must find that the child would be endangered mentally, physically, and emotionally under the current plan. If a parent has become unstable or abusive since parenting time was ordered, it would be possible to seek and be granted a modification to the parenting plan before the two years have passed because this kind of behavior may endanger the child.

After the two years have passed, modification may generally be possible if the parent seeking modification can show changed circumstances. Changed circumstances can include the parent's failure to follow the parenting plan that was previously approved or the parent's change in work hours or location requiring the parent to relocate. As with most decisions involving children, the court is supposed to consider the child's best interests in deciding whether or not to order modification. Depending on the age of the child, the child's wishes may also be considered.

Modification without changed circumstances is possible in some cases, such as when both parents agree to the modification—often through negotiation, the child has been parented under the proposed changes for at least six months before the petition for modification, or the proposed changes are minor in nature.

Unless your child is at immediate risk of physical injury, it is always better to seek modification before taking matters into your own hands and refusing to let the other parent have his or her court ordered time. Continuous failure to abide by the court's order can affect your case if you or your former spouse seeks modification down the road. You can also be charged with a criminal offense for interfering with the other parent's parenting time. If you believe your child is being physically harmed, you can contact the police for immediate assistance, seek an order of protection on your child's behalf, and move for immediate modification of parenting time.

Let Us Assist You

If you have a custodial agreement in place, but would like to modify it due to changed circumstances, contact the compassionate and experienced Crystal Lake family law attorneys at our law office for a consultation.