In Illinois, you can only seek custody modification two years after the court has issued the original order. This rule is meant to allow time to see if the custody arrangement works well for your situation. Additionally, it prevents unnecessary and repetitive modification requests.
However, the restriction is not absolute. Illinois courts can hear custody modification petitions before the two-year time limit under certain circumstances.
Situations that fall under the exception
If the petitioning parent can sufficiently prove that their child’s physical, mental and emotional well-being is in danger at the hands of the other parent, the court allows them to seek custody modification even before the required period.
Common examples that put the child’s well-being in danger are the following situations:
- The child’s existing living arrangement negatively affects their social behavior and performance at school.
- The child experiences, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect by their custodial parent.
- The custodial parent is convicted as a sex offender sometime after the court issued the custody order.
- The custodial parent faces prison time and can no longer fulfill their childcare duties.
The courts’ priority in any case involving a child is their safety and best interests. Hence, courts may circumvent requirements, such as the two-year time limit in custody modifications, to ensure children’s protection.
How you can prepare to realize your goal
Requesting the court to make changes in a custody order takes time and careful consideration. Properly evaluating your legal options, while simultaneously reviewing the unique circumstances of your situation, can help you develop a suitable strategy for your case.