When circumstances change after a divorce, you may find that your former child custody agreement no longer fits your family’s most current needs. When both parents agree to the change, you can request a modification at any time. Otherwise, you have to wait at least two years from the original order to petition for a change. 

Learn about the process to update a child custody order in Illinois. 

Types of modifications 

Some of the changes a parent can request include updates in: 

  • Who makes important decisions on the child’s behalf 
  • Where the child lives most of the time 
  • Who pays child support and the amount 
  • The parenting time schedule 

Requesting a modification 

When both parents agree, you should still request a legal modification so that the custody order reflects actual circumstances. When parents do not agree on a change, the parent who wants to make a change must show the court that circumstances have significantly changed since the original custody order. Examples include a relocation, a significant change in income or the birth of another child. 

The judge will not require proof when the requested change reflects the family’s life for at least the past six months. If you worry that your child’s current living situation poses mental or physical harm, you can request a change in custody at any time. 

Considerations for modification 

While the initial custody determination depends on the child’s best interest, the judge reviews a requested change with a bias toward keeping the child in a stable environment. For this reason, it can be difficult to receive a modification when both parents do not agree and no harmful circumstances exist in the custodial home. If you request a modification, you may need to show that the child is struggling in the current home or school environment, stays home alone at an inappropriate age, or has developed health problems or another serious issue that the court must address.