The term Modifications is used when discussing a case where there has already been a final order entered by the Courts. Whether this is a final parenting plan entered in a Paternity Case or a final Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage in a Divorce case, either party is always entitled to request that the Court change the agreement. These changes are referred to as a Modification. To learn more about the differences between a Divorce and a Paternity Case.

Modifications can be made to a number of different elements of your final Order, but cannot be made for every element of your Order. Most commonly, we see Modifications made to the elements involving your children or finances. Some of those elements are listed below:

Modification of Custody: A modification of custody can be made at any time after a final order is entered. These modifications usually result from one parent requesting that the Court Modify an existing parenting plan to increase the number of overnights that parent will have with their children. A Modification to a Custody order may result in a change in residential parentage or simply an increase in the number of overnights a parent has. This Modification may also be used when seeking the termination of supervised visits with a child or children or when seeking supervision for a parent that was not previously required to have supervision during parenting time. To learn more about Custody, click here.

Modification of Child Support: Modifying Child Support is also a possibility after the completion of your Paternity Case or Divorce. This Modification typically occurs when a parent has a change in income or when a child is in need of additional support – such as support for advanced levels of education. Be sure to be aware of your former spouse’s income and employment as these changes may constitute the Substantial Change in Circumstance needed to modify Child Support. Read more about Substantial Changes in Circumstances below.

Modification of Child Expense Responsibilities: Yet another possibility for a Modification of your final order is with regard to Child Expense Responsibilities. As we discussed in our Support (Hyperlink to main Support page) page, you are likely to be responsible for a number of different child related expenses, in addition to regular Child Support. It is possible that, as your child or children grow older, they will incur additional or new expenses. This Modification may allow you to place, remove or extend a possible cap on Child Expense Responsibilities, if one is in place in your final order.

Modification of Decision Making: In the years following a final order, it may be the case that you feel the decision making authority regarding your children’s important life decisions should change. It is possible to have that authority modified as well. Changes to Decision Making Authority may have dramatic impacts on your children’s lives. A Modification to Decision Making, as with all of these Modifications, is not made lightly and should only be done after careful consideration. To read more about Decision Making Authority, please see ourCustody and Visitation Subjects page.

Modification of Spousal Support: A Modification to a Spousal Support order is also possible. However, if your final Divorce Judgement includes a provision waiving your right to Maintenance, it cannot be undone or modified. This is one of the most impactful restrictions to the concept of Modifying a Family Law final order. If there is no waiver of Maintenance or Spousal Support in the Final Judgement, you may be able to modify this final order. Modifications to Spousal Support typically result from a change in income of one of the parties in the years after a Divorce is finalized. To read more about Spousal Support.

Termination of Child Support: A termination of Child Support is a Modification to a final Family Law Order, be it a Final Judgment in a Divorce or a final order in a Paternity Case. Child Support can be terminated once a Child reaches the age of 18 after graduating high school or they reach the age of 19 while still attending high school. In order for this support to terminate, a party must have included that provision in their final order or request the Court to enter an Order terminating Child Support through a motion. Remember, it is possible to have a Court Order entered requiring Child Support to continue beyond these dates if your child or children are attending college or an institution of higher learning. If this is the case, you must request that the Court enter an Order terminating Child Support after they leave such an institute, if this is not already detailed in your final order. To read more about Child Support.

Termination of Maintenance: The termination of Maintenance is available to the parties of a Divorce through the filing of a motion. This Modification allows for a former spouse to terminate their Spousal Support obligations once the other party has remarried or is cohabitating with another person in a marriage like relationship. See our Support page for more information regarding Spousal Support and Maintenance.

When Modifying a final order, the Courts require proof of a “Substantial Change in Circumstance.” This is a phrase used to describe a significant change in the circumstance surrounding your case. Often, this Substantial Change in Circumstance involves one party either increasing or decreasing their income substantially. If one party is able to prove that the other party has received a raise or a new job, they can file a motion requesting the Court to Modify their prior Court Order. This is also the case when a party loses their job and wishes to decrease their payments. Other common Substantial Changes in Circumstance may occur through any number of the following occurrences:

  • DCFS Findings of Endangerment
  • Criminal Convictions
  • Drug or Alcohol Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Cohabitation with another person in a marriage-like relationship
  • Remarriage
  • A minor reaching majority age
  • A minor graduating from high school, college or other institute of higher learning

There are many potential Changes in Circumstance that may impact your final Family Law order. If you believe one of these changes or another significant change to your circumstances or your former partner’s has occurred and that you may be entitled to a Modification, seek the assistance of an experienced Family Law and Divorce Attorney.

If you or someone you know is in need of a family law attorney, call us today. Our highly skilled team works with our clients to provide the knowledge and experience needed to build a successful winning legal strategy. Schedule your free initial consultation with a Rockford Divorce Law Attorney today to learn more about the services our team can provide you.

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Helpful questions about family law

How to choose the right divorce lawyer?

Choosing the right divorce lawyer, in our mind, comes down to three factors. First, is this lawyer going to be an aggressive advocate for me? Second, is this lawyer a person I can get along with personally? Third, do I trust this lawyer to communicate with me effectively? If you walk away from an initial consultation with a lawyer answering yes to those three questions, you have likely found the lawyer who is right for you.

Legal work can be extremely time consuming. Your expectations should not necessarily be that your lawyer is someone you can vent to about your personal life, as that would likely result in an unreasonably high bill. But you should expect your lawyer to keep you informed as to the status of your case. You should also expect your lawyer to listen to your wishes and concerns and use those thoughts as a basis for your case. You don’t need to talk to your lawyer everyday, but you should hear from them every other week or so.

Expect the unexpected when it comes to the Court dates. The Court system is based on a first-come-first-serve calendar, when the case is not filed as an emergency. All initial Court dates are determined by the Clerk of the Court, not of the lawyer or client. If you have a lawyer, expect the Judges to want your lawyer to do the talking, unless the Judge asks the client a question directly. You should also expect the Judge to keep the Courtroom as orderly as possible. Judges very much look down on people who speak out of turn. As for dress, the Court does not require a strict dress code, but it is always a good idea to dress professionally to show the Judge that you take the system and their Courtroom seriously.

There is a process in the law referred to as “discovery” that allows a party to a legal proceeding to discover information about the opposing party. In the context of a divorce, “discovery” is primarily used in the form of written questions and written requests for the opposing party to provide documents to the party that is doing the requesting. These are called “interrogatories” and “requests to produce.” During the process, the party answering the questions or requests must provide a written testimony, under oath, that the documents and answers are true and accurate. It is through this process of “discovery” that we are able to learn what assets a party possesses.

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