How Can I Modify Parenting Time Around the Holidays?
By: Gordon & Perlut, LLC
As the holiday season approaches and parents make plans with extended family and friends, it can be frustrating when you realize your existing parenting plan, or the allocation of parenting time, does not allow you to make the plans you were hoping to make. Figuring out a way to work out a parenting time schedule with your child’s other parent around the holidays can be difficult — and sometimes may feel impossible — even for parents that are doing a relatively good job with co-parenting. If you do want to modify parenting time around the holidays, do you have any options?
Showing of a Substantial Change in Circumstances
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), parents can modify an existing allocation judgment (or custody judgment), including significant decision-making responsibilities or parenting time, when the parent seeking the modification can prove there has been a substantial change in circumstances. The IMDMA does not expressly define what kinds of situations may constitute a substantial change in circumstances, but typically, the parent seeking the modification will need to prove something has significantly changed. To be clear, a mere shift in a work schedule over the holidays or finding out about the opportunity to take a family trip that would disrupt the existing parenting time arrangement, would not constitute a substantial change in circumstances in order to modify an existing judgment.
If you do not have a substantial change in circumstances to modify your parenting time schedule or arrangement, do you have any other options? In some scenarios, the IMDMA permits a court to modify the parenting time arrangement — even if there has not been a substantial change in circumstances.
Modifying Parenting Time Without a Substantial Change in Circumstances
If your parenting time schedule states you have your child every other year in December for the holiday break and the child’s other parent has the child during the other year (in other words, on a rotating basis), you might want to alter that arrangement because your job now requires you to spend a portion of the holiday season working. As such, you might want to change the arrangement so you can always spend your full December vacation days every year during a portion of the children’s school break, which you must take consecutively, with your child. Or perhaps your parents purchased a holiday vacation home, and you want your child to spend Christmas this year, and in every subsequent year, with grandparents and other extended family in the vacation home.
No matter what the circumstances might be, the court can allow a modification to a parenting time arrangement without a substantial modification if:
To be clear, if a holiday parenting time modification is in the child’s best interests and the other parent agrees, or it is a minor modification, you might be able to change the parenting time arrangement.
Contact a Parenting Time Attorney in the Chicago area
You might be able to modify your parenting time arrangement during the holiday season under Illinois law, but it will be critical to speak with an experienced Chicago parenting time lawyer about your case. Contact Gordon & Perlut, LLC for more information.