Can I Modify My Final Divorce Decree?

Posted on in Divorce Procedure

IL divorce lawyerIf you have experienced a substantial change in circumstances since your divorce decree was issued, you might be able to have your divorce decree modified. Illinois law recognizes that the terms of a divorce decree can become impractical or impossible to follow when one party has gone through a significant life change. A simple example is that a divorced person who has lost their job might no longer have the ability to pay spousal support. In this example, the court would likely be willing to modify the divorce decree to cancel spousal support payments.  Parenting plans established during a divorce may also be altered if a significant change suggests that a modification is in the child’s best interest, such as if the child or a parent becomes disabled. If you feel that your divorce decree is no longer working because your circumstances have changed, you should contact an attorney to discuss pursuing a modification. 

What is a Substantial Change in Circumstances? 

What constitutes a substantial change in circumstances is left vague in Illinois’ post-decree modification statute. This is likely intentional. The legislature likely knew that it could not anticipate all types of changes in circumstances that could reasonably impact the workability of a divorce decree after it had been finalized. That said, there are a few common types of changes in circumstances that the courts will usually grant a modification to a divorce decree or a parenting plan, including:

  • Job changes -  Child support and spousal support are generally based on the payor’s income. If the payor’s income changes, their support obligations might also change. 
  • Health issues - If either party or one of the children starts experiencing serious medical or mental health issues, a change in the terms of the decree or parenting plan might be warranted. 
  • Relocation by a parent - A parent who moves a significant distance will likely need a modification. 

Although these are far from the only circumstances that could prompt the court to grant a modification, they are among the most common. 


Wheaton, IL complex divorce lawyerA divorce with spouses who experience high conflict or who have a high net worth is known as a complex divorce. While many argue that any divorce is difficult, this type of divorce follows unique criteria that make things especially complicated for all parties. But with the help of a seasoned divorce attorney, you can settle your divorce more effectively and favorably, whether it is complex or not.

Is a Complex Divorce Uncontested or Contested?

A complex divorce can be either contested or uncontested. Most people think of ex-spouses at odds when there is a contested divorce, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, it is a simple disagreement between both parties based on the distribution of assets, finances, parenting time, or alimony. 

A complex, uncontested divorce is when a few complicated factors are at play, but both parties agree on how the divorce should be handled. Here are a few elements of a complex divorce to keep in mind: 


IL divorce lawyerWhile litigated Illinois divorce used to be common, couples are now encouraged by divorce courts to use resources like mediation and collaborative divorce to resolve issues peaceably. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, and some couples still find themselves litigating their divorces in court even when they do not want to. In this blog, we will discuss some potential signs that you may end up litigating your divorce in a trial, as well as what the divorce trial experience looks like. Be sure to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to get customized advice for your situation.

When Does a Divorce Go to Trial?

Certain circumstances make it difficult or impossible to achieve a resolution through mediation or other cooperative methods. These situations include, but are not limited to:

  • A spouse who contests the divorce and will not negotiate or settle
  • Spouses whose communication is so contentious that compromise is impossible
  • Hostile disputes over child custody, especially when abuse is alleged
  • Domestic violence towards either the spouse or the children
  • One or both spouses hiding assets, engaging in dissipation of marital assets or refusing to be forthcoming about finances

Sometimes a divorce that seems to be headed for a long, protracted trial can be headed off by presenting information to a judge in a pre-trial conference and asking the judge to estimate what their decision is likely to be. This may convince a spouse not to continue litigating indefinitely when they are not likely to accomplish their goals.


Tips for Preparing For Your Illinois Divorce

Posted on in Divorce Procedure

IL divorce lawyerThe process of getting a divorce can seem monumental. Besides the emotional upheaval of separating from your spouse, getting divorced can be a long process that requires extensive paperwork and negotiation over complicated topics like assets and parenting time.

However, there are things that you can do before the divorce begins to speed up the process and make it less complex. Doing a little work now to organize and prepare yourself for divorce can save you significant time and money in the future. Here are some great tips for people in Illinois who are preparing for or considering divorce.

Check Out Different Lawyers

Finding an attorney that meets your needs and style is important - you will be working closely together and the attorney-client relationship should be one that makes you feel respected and heard. Have an initial consultation with a few different attorneys and get a sense of your options. A responsible attorney should be honest about your realistic options, respect your priorities, and have an eye towards saving you time and money.


Wheaton filing for divorce attorneyThe divorce process is likely to be rife with challenging decisions and difficult considerations for you and your spouse to manage. The two of you will need to deal with both your current situations, as well as your expectations and plans for the future, especially if you have children together. Among the myriad concerns that most couples face is the decision regarding who should be the one to file the formal divorce petition and when the petition should be filed. Is there an advantage to filing before your spouse does, or does it really matter who files first? The answer, as with most divorce-related questions, is that it depends on your unique circumstances.

Are There Legal Advantages to Filing First?

For the majority of divorcing couples in Illinois, filing first does not offer any special advantage from a legal perspective. The titles that will be used in your proceedings will be different depending on who filed first. The filer is referred to as the “petitioner” or “plaintiff,” and the other spouse is known as the “respondent” or “defendant,” but both parties have equal rights and responsibilities during the proceedings. You will have opportunities to bring up issues and express your objections whether you are the petitioner or the respondent.

The ability to allege and prove a claim against your spouse is also not contingent on which party filed for divorce first. For example, you can raise a claim of dissipating assets, or be required to defend against one, regardless of who filed the initial petition for divorce.


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