Generally speaking, when a divorce decree is final, it can no longer be modified. However, when a significant change occurs in one of the parties’ lives, a decree can be adapted to fit that new reality. Protocol must be followed, but with help, a decree can be changed to suit life as it changes.
When Is Modification Appropriate?
It is sometimes difficult to determine when a life change has been dramatic enough to mandate modification of a divorce decree. The unspoken rule is that whenever the amount of people, time and/or money changes in your life, it is grounds for change. Some examples of these situations would:
- One party to the divorce becoming disabled permanently or for the foreseeable future;
- One party receiving a promotion/higher salary at work;
- One party remarrying and/or having more children;
- One party wishing to move to another state; or
- The child requiring more or less medical care than he or she did at the time of the divorce.
Any or all of these might conceivably convince a judge to approve a modification of your divorce order. You or your former spouse may need a child support adjustment or a change to the parenting time schedule, either of which would directly impact the life of your child or children. The court will always do its best to rule in the child’s best interest.
While most modification requests are made in good faith and granted by the court, some actions will immediately disqualify a person from being able to modify an order, especially regarding maintenance payments or child custody. For example, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) states clearly that if a spouse engages in cohabitation on a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis” before divorce, he or she loses the right to receive maintenance. The rationale is that if he or she is living with someone else, he or she does not need his or her former spouse’s money. If that cohabitation arrangement subsequently falls apart, a modification to add maintenance will not be considered.
You should also be aware that in Illinois, if your modification request is found to be fraudulent or “vexatious,” as the law characterizes it, you may be liable for the other party’s attorney fees as punishment of sorts. The court does not take wastes of its time lightly.
Contact an Order Divorce Modification Attorney
If you are unsure whether or not you have experienced a sufficient change in your life to request modification of your divorce, it is be best to consult a professional. Contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney for a full case analysis today.