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Modifying the Parenting Schedule

by Wes Cowell; updated 27 March 2018 -- e-mail a question.


Your parenting schedule may be modified ONLY by the court.  An out-of-court agreement is not enforceable.  Your parenting schedule may be modified any time circumstances have changed and fixing the schedule would serve the child's best interests.  Callleave your info, or schedule a consult.


Background:  The law divides "parental responsibilities" into two areas:  1) "decision-making" and 2) the "parenting schedule."  Your parenting schedule is defined by your Parenting Plan (if it's agreed with the other parent) (750 ILCS 5.602.10) or the Allocation Judgment (if there was no agreement and the court had to create a schedule) (750 ILCS 5/602.5).  A written parenting schedule agreed to by the parents is binding upon the court unless the court finds that it would not be in the best interests of the children.  750 ILCS 5/602.10(d)


"Substantial Change in Circumstance" + "Best Interest"

25+ or 50+ Mile Relocation

Minor Change in Circumstances

Actual Arrangement (6 Months +)

Minor Modifications

Necessary to Correct Mistake


"Substantial Change in Circumstance" + "Best Interests":  The  law says: 

Sec. 610.5. Modification.
    (a) Unless by stipulation of the parties or except as provided in Section 603.10 of this Act, no motion to modify an order allocating parental decision-making responsibilities, not including parenting time, may be made earlier than 2 years after its date, unless the court permits it to be made on the basis of affidavits that there is reason to believe the child's present environment may endanger seriously his or her mental, moral, or physical health or significantly impair the child's emotional development. Parenting time may be modified at any time, without a showing of serious endangerment, upon a showing of changed circumstances that necessitates modification to serve the best interests of the child. 

750 ILCS 5/610.5

That's all you need:  a substantial change in circumstances and a modification that would serve the children's best interests.

25+ or 50+ Mile Relocation:  A relocation of more than 25 or 50 miles automatically qualifies as a "substantial change in circumstances."  750 ILCS 5/609.2.


Minor Change in Circumstances:  Even if there hasn't been a isubstantial change in circumstance, the parenting schedule may still be modified -- even if the parents don't agree -- based on:


Actual Arrangement (6 Months +):  750 ILCS 5/610.5(e)(1)  This happens all the time.  A parenting plan is put in place and the parents abide by it for a while.  Then things change and the parents operate under a different schedule without ever going back to cout to change the original parenting plan.  Time goes by and then one of the parents wants to go back to the original parenting plan.  Since the original schedul is still on teh books, it controls.  


If you've been operating by a parenting schedule different from the written, court-approved schedule, for more than six months, you can go to court to have the court endorse the informal schedule and make it the official schedule.


Minor Modifications:  750 ILCS 5/610.5(e)(2)  Sometimes a parent need to clean up a few little odds and ends in the parenting schedule -- a few hours here or there or restructing a holiday or two -- but there hasn't been a "substantial change in circumstances."  The court will allow such modification efforts even when the parents don't agree.  


Necessary to Correct Mistakes:  750 ILCS 5/610.5(e)(3)  Sometimes a parenting schedule is approved by the court when the court, for whatever reason, doesn't have the full story.  Later, the facts come out and it's clear the schedule should be changed . . . but there hasn't been a change in circumstances since the entry of the parenting plan.  No problem.  If the court wouldn't have approved the existing schedule if all the facts at the time were known, the court may correct a parenting plan based on later-learned facts.



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Substantial Change in Circumstances
25+ or 50+ Mile Relocation
Minor Change in Circumstances
Actual Arrangement (6 monts +)
Minor Modifcations
Necessary to Correct Mistakes
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