Life is full of unexpected surprises and challenges, all the more so when living a post-divorce lifestyle. If you are in a co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse, changes in either your routine or that of your co-parent can radically alter your familial obligations.

When these types of changes occur, it may be necessary to adjust your parenting time agreement to better reflect each individual’s ability to care for your child. Before attempting an alteration, though, it is important to consider a few key questions on the matter.

Can you legally adjust your agreement?

Illinois law on custody modification states that you can adjust parenting time, but other aspects of your agreement such as decision-making responsibilities are not alterable within the first two years of the initial agreement unless the current circumstances are harmful to the child or if a previously-accepted parental agreement allows for it.

How will the alteration affect your child?

You might feel that adjusting your parenting time schedule is necessary to accommodate changes in either your or your co-parent’s lifestyle, but it is important to consider your child’s situation. Think carefully about whether or not the suggested change will affect your kid’s time with friends, club activities or other important events.

Is it okay to enter into an informal agreement?

If you need to make a seemingly-small adjustment to your schedule, you might feel that it is okay to come to a verbal agreement through casual conversation with your co-parent. Be aware, however, of how this can spiral into greater and greater changes and that each individual is ultimately legally responsible for upholding the terms of the court-accepted agreement.

Maintaining a functional parenting time agreement requires patience and cooperation from both parties. By being thorough in the alteration process, you can arrive at the adjustments you need.

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