How to Modify a Divorce in Illinois
Change is inevitable. It is the one constant we can be sure of in life. Relationships begin and end, friendships come and go, and children become adults.
Life constantly throws curveballs, especially when dealing with issues that may affect a divorce settlement which we once considered solved.
Fortunately under Illinois law, the unforeseen issues that can adversely affect a divorce settlement may be changed or modified, depending on current circumstances.
For example, the divorce settlement may have taken place years ago, when both spouses did not foresee the possibility of another relationship. However, times change and the spouse making alimony payments suddenly finds that their ex-spouse has moved in with a significant other, in which case an alimony modification decree may be in order.
Another example may involve child support payments. A parent ordered to pay a certain amount of money monthly suddenly loses their job, perhaps through an illness or accident. On the flip side, they may be earning much more money. A child support modification decree may be necessary in either case.
However, before any modification can be considered by the court, a full hearing must ensue. Once approved by the court, changes to alimony or child support can be made.
If the paying spouse decides for whatever reason to ignore the initial divorce settlement without seeking modification or court permission, they may find themself in “contempt of court,” resulting in penalties including suspension of their driver’s license, wage garnishments, and even jail time.
Children are a priority in all divorce cases. If the custodial parent wishes to relocate with the child, both parties must be in agreement. If they cannot reach an amicable solution, the court will step in and determine if the move is in the best interest of the child.
Illinois State Law on Maintenance Modification
The “Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act” instituted in 2015 also allows modifications for other life-changing circumstances. State law lists a number factors that may change the initial divorce settlement, including:
- A change of employment status for either party
- An attempt by the payment recipient to become more self-supporting
- Tax implications that may affect maintenance payments
- An unforeseen financial situation that may impact one’s ability to pay
- The timeline of support payments as compared to the length of the marriage
- The value of property granted to each spouse upon the termination of the marriage
- The value of property obtained and/or owned by each individual after settlement of the divorce was entered
- Other unforeseen issues that the court may consider