When parents of young children get divorced in Illinois, they must file a parenting plan with the court that includes a parenting time formula or schedule with sufficient detail to enable court enforcement. Thereafter, if either parent wants to change the parenting time schedule, they can do so at any time by either making an informal agreement between themselves or going back to court to formally request a parenting time modification.
The Illinois Supreme Court has published a standard Parenting Plan form designed to ease the process of defining and modifying a parenting time schedule. This form spells out a reasonable process for changing your parenting time schedule.
For example, suppose you originally agreed to a schedule that designated Halloween as a holiday on which each parent would have the children every other year. However, you would prefer not to treat Halloween as a holiday anymore and instead treat it like a regular day.
The first step is for you to talk to your co-parent and try to reach an agreement on your own. For a temporary change, you do not have to file anything with the court. An example of a temporary change would be letting your spouse have the children for Halloween this year only and then returning to your original schedule. If your spouse agrees, then you are all set.
If you want the change to be permanent, you should file a revised parenting plan with the court. If you do not file a revised parenting plan with the court, and you subsequently have a compliance problem with your co-parent, the court-approved plan will be upheld.
But what happens if your co-parent will not agree to your proposed change? Your parenting plan should specify a process for resolving disagreements, such as mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, then you must file a petition with the court to modify the parenting plan.
For example, suppose your parenting time plan specified that you were to pick up the children on Fridays at 5 pm for your weekend parenting time. However, your work schedule and the time it takes you to drive from work to the pick-up location makes it impossible for you to pick up the children until 6:30 pm, and you would like to make this change permanent. Your co-parent refuses to agree to this change with no good reason. You will need to petition the court for a modification of parenting time, and the burden is on you to show why the change is in the best interest of the children. If the judge finds that you have met this burden, your request should be approved. If you had already been picking up the children at 6:30 pm for at least six months at the time you make your petition, Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/610.5) directs the court to make this modification without argument.
If you are having trouble getting your co-parent to cooperate with your court-approved parenting time schedule, consult a DuPage County parenting time attorney to discuss your situation and explore options. Receive a free consultation by calling Mevorah Law Offices LLC at 630-932-9100.
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