How to Change a Divorce Decree in Illinois

By Roger Thorne J.D.
Illinois divorce decrees can only be modified under specific circumstances.

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Divorces are court decrees terminating a marriage. Typically, divorces decrees are final, meaning they cannot be changed after the court makes its decision. However, some divorce decree provisions can later be changed. These divorce modifications can only happen if specific circumstances occur. Like divorces, divorce modifications in Illinois must be approved by the court.

If you hired an attorney for the original divorce, you should first contact your attorney. Tell her what you want to change and why. Because Illinois law about divorce decree modifications can be complicated and can be affected by various factors, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney even if you decide to change your divorce yourself.

You can only change your divorce decree if you experience a material change in circumstances that affects your ability to meet the specific requirements of the decree. For example, if you lose your job or suffer a serious injury that limits your ability to earn a living, you have probably experienced a material change in circumstances that will modify your divorce decree.

You must petition the court for a modification based on the part of the divorce you want to change. For example, if you want to change your child support payment, you must ask for a modification of child support. Your petition must name the court you are petitioning, the kind of change you want, and the names of the parties involved. Depending on the kind of change you are requesting, you may have to include other information as well.

Once your petition is ready, you'll need to file it with the clerk of the county courthouse where your original divorce was entered. The court maintains jurisdiction over your case unless you can show that a change of jurisdiction is warranted. Contact your local county courthouse clerk and ask how much the filing fee is, because you must pay the fee when you file.

You can't change your divorce decree without having a court approve your proposed changes and letting your ex-spouse have a say in it. Once you file your petition, the court will schedule at least one hearing.

About the Author

Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.

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