When parents of minor children get divorced there are generally two main documents that govern their post-divorce life: the parenting plan and the marital settlement agreement. The parenting plan governs all parenting matters such as parenting time and decision-making responsibilities. The marital settlement agreement governs financial matters such as the distribution the marital estate as well as child support, maintenance (alimony), and payment of other child related expenses. Both documents are essentially court orders over which the Court maintains jurisdiction. Therefore, if someone is not following either document then a judge could hold him/her in contempt of court. Also, the judge maintains jurisdiction to modify the terms of either if appropriate.
The parenting plan and the marital settlement agreement are unique legal constructs because they can be modified without the agreement of both parties. Generally, most of the terms of the parenting plan can be modified. Modification of a marital settlement agreement is more limited – child support, maintenance and children expenses can be modified but the terms of the property distribution can never be modified.
Illinois law recognizes that people’ s lives change and, therefore, so too, under the right conditions, should the terms of the parenting plan and/or marital settlement agreement. Simply, the terms of the parenting plan and marital settlement agreement may be outdated as people’s lives evolve years after the divorce.
The easiest way to modify either document is by agreement of the ex-spouse. If the ex-spouse refuses then a petition to modify must be filed. In order to prevail on this type of petition the petitioner must prove to the court that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred which warrants modification. This is not an easy standard to meet but its not impossible. The law has struck the right balance. Marital settlement agreements and parenting plans are firm but flexible.
The Botti Law Firm, P.C. has been practicing family law for nearly 50 years in DuPage and Cook County. Please contact one of our attorneys at (630)573-8585 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a free consultation.
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The Botti Law Firm, P.C., conveniently located in Oak Brook and Wheaton, is a full service law firm that offers comprehensive legal representation to individuals, families, businesses and professionals from the Chicago area, including Cook, Kane, DuPage, Lake, Will and Kendall Counties, to the rest of the United States. Our experienced trial attorneys are dedicated to obtaining successful results for our clients, in both state and federal courts.
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