If 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....