While courts always try their best to handle divorce proceedings fairly, the evolving nature of each party’s living situation in the months and years after divorce can often make modifications of orders created during the divorce process necessary. Luckily, there are steps in place to allow for all existing orders set about during the divorce process, including child custody orders, child support orders, and alimony orders, to be modified should the need arise.
The process isn’t always cut-and-dry, however, which means that if you’re looking to submit a modification order for whatever reason, having the legal counsel of a Cook County divorce lawyer on hand should be seen as a must.
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What Is a Modification Order?
In order for the stipulations set out by an existing order to officially change, that order will need to undergo the process of a formal modification. A modification order is an order submitted to the courts for the modification of an already existing order.
Depending on the amicability of your relationship with your previous partner, a joint agreement occurring between you may simply override existing orders. However, in the event compromise can’t be reached amicably, a judge will be forced to preside over the modification. This will require one or both parties to submit proof showing the need, or lack thereof, for the modification.
Even in instances where both parties can come to an agreement outside of the courts, it is often advised to submit a formal modification order for posterity’s sake. When it comes to the law, it’s always best to play things by the book.
Does Custodial Status Affect the Ability to Submit a Modification Order?
Either parent may submit an order for modification. However, if there has not been a change in circumstances since the initial order was decreed, it is unlikely that the modification order will go through. All orders are eligible for a review every three years to see if a modification would be appropriate, but extraneous circumstances will often allow an order to be modified sooner.
When Are Child Custody Orders Allowed to Be Modified?
As stated above, child custody orders are eligible for automatic review every three years. However, many circumstances may cause them to undergo review sooner. In these instance, Cook County modification orders may be allowed regardless of the amount of time that has elapsed since the initial judgement.
Oftentimes, these hastened order modifications will most often occur as the result of circumstances which may be putting a child in danger, such as one parent failing to take care of the child during times when the child is in their custody.
While order modifications may be allowed to go through in these instances, you will need to present your case to the courts. For this reason, having an experienced Illinois family law attorney involved can make the process go a lot smoother, ensuring an ideal conclusion for all involved.
When Are Child Support Orders Allowed to Be Modified?
Similar to child custody orders, child support orders may be modified sooner than every three years should there be some extraneous circumstance. These are typically the result of one or both parties involved in the initial order falling on hard times financially, such as the loss of a job or incurring medical expenses.
Additionally, if the child requires ongoing medical care, and in turn, incurs large expenses, modification orders for child support may be swiftly put through to modify existing child support orders to insure the health of the child above all else.
Can I File an Order for Modification Personally?
Anyone is allowed to file the paperwork themselves with the court clerk and hope for the best. However, to ensure the best outcome, having an experienced family attorney on hand to review and guide you along the process of filling out all necessary paperwork is a great way to make sure you’re doing everything the right way. Terms and stipulations can be tricky.
A well-versed family lawyer can help make sure your case is presented to the judge in the most coherent and sympathetic way possible. As well, legal counsel can help with the wording and reworking of stipulations, ensuring that there is no risk of the modification order being misinterpreted.
Can Alimony Orders Be Modified?
Just as with child support orders and child custody orders, alimony orders may be modified by the courts should a valid reason be presented. Oftentimes, an existing alimony order will include stipulations that dictate when and why the existing order may be modified. As with child support orders, alimony orders will typically be preserved unless either party presents a compelling reason why they should be modified.
Such a compelling reason could be, as with child support orders, the loss of a job or incurring medical expenses. Those work both ways and the receiving party may submit a modification order if the paying party has seen an increase in finances since the time of the original alimony order, as well. The paying party can also submit a request for modification if the receiving party has remarried, especially to an individual who has significant financial resources.
Do I Need to Modify Orders Through the Courts?
While two parents coming to an agreement or compromise on their own is allowed, existing orders won’t be formally modified until a modification order is submitted to, and approved by, the courts. Please note, any modification order will have to be submitted to the same courts that created the initial orders and will be up to the whims of that jurisdiction.
All types of divorce decrees may be modified should circumstances arise that cause issues with the existing orders since the time they were decreed. Presenting your case to the courts can sometimes be complicated, but having experienced legal counsel on your side can make it a lot simpler.
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Family law can be incredibly complicated and getting what you want out of the courts is not always going to be easy. While courts will typically always err on the side of caution, always choosing what’s best for the children, there are many circumstances wherein the initial judgments of the courts are not always going to hold up over time.
If you are in a situation where you are needing to submit a modification order for either child custody, child support, or alimony, consulting with an Cook County family lawyer is a great first step. Not only can we advise you on the best course of action going forward, but we can also help you every other step along the way. If you’ve got a case, we can help you get your orders modified with minimal fuss.