How Has COVID-19 Affected Parenting Orders in Illinois?
During the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live. While many businesses shuttered temporarily to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus, other companies have allowed their employees to work remotely from home. Likewise, many school districts have switched to online learning, so more people are home now than they would be normally. Some divorced parents are finding their income significantly reduced if their position was eliminated completely and they had to file for unemployment. With such a disruption to everyone’s regular routines, you may be wondering if you can modify your existing divorce orders, including child support, parenting time, and child custody. Under Illinois law, you can amend these types of orders depending on the circumstances.
Continuing to find ways to support your children after you get divorced can be very challenging, especially if you and your ex-spouse do not see eye to eye on certain matters. Illinois law requires divorcing parents to come to an agreement on the allocation of parental responsibilities (child custody) and parenting time (visitation). This parenting plan also includes who will have the authority to make decisions about the children’s educational opportunities and extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or theater. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, a judge will make decisions based on several factors, including the financial status of the spouses and the well-being of the children.
Under Illinois law, a divorce is final after the judge signs a court order, often referred to as a decree or judgment. This legal document includes any decisions regarding the division of assets or property, spousal maintenance, and child support. After a certain period of time, however, the orders may not apply or be inappropriate given the situation. For example, if one parent loses his or her job, that results in a substantial change in income. If he or she is paying child support to the other parent, he or she may petition the court for an order modification to reduce the amount. For an Illinois court to modify a current parenting order, there must be a “substantial change in circumstances.” This typically means it was not something the parent would voluntarily choose, such as job termination, death of the other parent, or a change in the child's wishes.
During the COVID-19 crisis, essential workers such as those in the medical field still have to go into work. However, if they have young kids, their daycare center might be closed or their older kids may be at home now participating in remote learning. If the other parent is working from home and is able to have the children during the day at his or her house, both parents may agree on their own to this temporary change. If one person decides to take a new job out of state and relocate, that could affect child custody arrangements. Regardless of the specific type of order, if it involves children, the courts will always do what is in their best interest when deciding if a modification is warranted.
There is also a presumption that parents will act with their children’s well-being in mind. Illinois’ executive order provides that transporting kids to/from each parent’s house for parenting time is considered essential travel. However, if a child or parent is exhibiting symptoms of the virus, he or she should notify the other parent and then quarantine for the recommended period of time per health official guidelines.
Contact a Hoffman Estates Divorce Attorney
The long-term impact of coronavirus influences our day-to-day decisions lately. During these uncertain times, it may be daunting to consider filing for divorce or modifying an existing divorce order. However, it is important not to delay what is best for you or your kids. Attorney Nicholas W. Richardson can assist you with drafting or changing child custody or parenting time orders that consider your children’s best interests. Our reputable Arlington Heights parenting time lawyer understands how important these parenting orders are after a divorce to you as well as your children. Call our office today at 847.873.6741 to schedule a free consultation.