After a divorce is finalized, court orders cover essential aspects of a divorce. This includes division of property, spousal maintenance, child support, and child custody. These agreements are enforced by the court, but some of these orders can still be changed. Division of property is finalized alongside the divorce and therefore usually can’t be modified. However, there are situations where ongoing court orders can be altered to fit the needs of your family.

When Can an Order Be Modified?

If you and the other party agree to the modification of orders such as parenting time or spousal maintenance, you can make those changes. Then, you just have to submit the altered agreement to the court. However, spouses can’t agree to alter court orders such as a waiver of spousal maintenance or property division.

If only one spouse wants to modify an order, they must do so through the court. Family court orders can be modified in certain circumstances, including if there is a substantial change in circumstances. Whether a specific change will alter a court order depends on the family court order. For orders like support or maintenance, a substantial change may include an increase or decrease in income. For child custody, the needs of the child may have changed. Whether you’re hoping to modify maintenance, custody, or child support, there are different requirements.

Spousal Maintenance Modifications

Spousal maintenance modifications generally depend on changes in income or financial ability. Changes to spousal maintenance must be made in good faith. If the paying party chooses to have their income lowered or quit their job, they can’t apply to lower their spousal maintenance payments. Significant changes that allow for a modification may include:

  • Change in either party’s income or employment
  • Efforts that the receiving party has made to be self-sufficient
  • A negative effect on either party’s earning capacity
  • Tax consequences of spousal maintenance
  • The receiving party living with a partner or remarrying
  • Property acquisitions by either party

The court may consider other factors if it believes them to have a significant impact.

Child Support Modifications

Modifications to child support also depend on income, but they primarily rely on the financial needs and interests of the child or children. Child support’s purpose is to provide a child with the same level of financial support from both parents and the same support they would have received if parents had not separated. The court will only allow a hearing for a modification of child support if:

  • At least 3 years have passed since the order was created or modified.
  • There was a significant change in either parent’s finances.
  • The initial support order did not cover healthcare for the child.
  • There was a written request for a review made through the Department of Child Support Services.

A significant change in circumstances that may allow for a modification to child support includes:

  • There was a change in the child’s financial needs.
  • There was an increase or decrease in the paying parent’s income or resources.
  • The receiving parent’s income or resources changed.
  • The child turned 18.
  • The child gained significant resources or is self-supporting.
  • There is a change in custody or where the child primarily resides.
  • The child is emancipated.

The court looks at several factors to determine if these changes are significant.

Parenting Time and Legal Decision-Making Modifications

Parenting time and legal decision-making can be modified if it’s necessary. The court prefers not to modify child custody or legal decision-making, as this change is considered detrimental to the child’s interests. The court will usually not modify child custody within 2 years since the agreement was made or modified. However, it will modify it within those 2 years if there is a serious endangerment of the child’s mental, physical, or moral health.

If it has been more than 2 years, the court will allow a modification if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This may include:

  • Relocation
  • Remarriage
  • A parent’s inability to care for their child

The court may also allow a modification if it reflects a change that has been implemented for 6 months or if it is a minor change.


Q: What Is a Substantial Change in Circumstances in Illinois?

A: A substantial change in circumstance depends on the order you are requesting to modify in Illinois. It may include:

  • An increase or decrease in resources and income
  • A change in one party’s financial requirements
  • Loss of employment
  • Relocation by either party
  • Marriage or remarriage
  • A change in a child’s wishes
  • A parent who is no longer fit to care for a child

Q: At What Age Can a Child Refuse to See a Parent in Illinois?

A: A child can make their own legal decisions, including refusing to see a parent, at the age of 18 in Illinois. Before then, a court will consider the child’s wishes when determining parenting time decisions. The court is more likely to listen to an older child’s wishes, but it could listen to a younger child, depending on several factors. The court is never required to listen to the child’s wishes, however, and holds the child’s interests above all else.

Q: Can You Modify a Parenting Plan Without Going to Court in Illinois?

A: No, a parenting plan can only be modified through the court in Illinois. For a modification to parenting time or visitation, the court is likely to grant the change if it is beneficial to the child and in their interests. For a modification to legal decision-making or custody, no modification can be made within 2 years of the order being made. To modify it before 2 years, a parent must prove that the current plan is somehow detrimental to their child’s interests. This may include circumstances such as serious endangerment or impairment of the child’s emotional development.

Q: How Often Can I Modify Child Support in Illinois?

A: A request to modify child support is allowed every 3 years. Modification can be requested within those 3 years if the petitioner can show:

  1. A significant change in the child’s needs
  2. A significant change in the non-custodial and paying parent’s income

To increase a support payment, you must prove in court the paying parent’s ability to pay. Otherwise, the modification may lower their support payments.

Contact Stange Law Firm

For legal assistance with a modification of family law orders in Bloomington, contact Stange Law Firm.