Divorce Settlement Statute of Limitations in Chicago, Illinois

By Jean Henegan

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A statute of limitations is a legal deadline before which a court case may initially be brought or appealed. Under Illinois law, there is no one set statute of limitations for divorce settlements. Rather, there is a statute of limitations for appeals, a different set of rules regarding augmenting child custody agreements, and no statute of limitations for all other changes to a final divorce settlement. Some changes may be made at any point following the finalization of the divorce, while other changes are more difficult to obtain past this point.

Appealing Settlement Terms

If you have signed your final divorce settlement, but later decide you do not agree with its terms, you have the right to appeal the settlement to the next highest Illinois court. Under Illinois state law, which govern Chicago legal cases, you have 30 days from the date your final settlement was approved and entered by the court to appeal the terms of the settlement. It is important to note that if you are still negotiating any terms of the divorce, including custody, child support or maintenance, your divorce is not considered final. An appeal is allowed only when all the legal elements of the divorce have been finalized and approved by the trial court.

Modifying Divorce Decree

If you would like to modify the terms of your divorce decree, not including child support or child custody, you will have to have a concrete cause behind your request. For example, if you discover that your former spouse was hiding a secret bank account created during the course of the marriage, you may have cause for a change in the terms of the divorce settlement. However, simply feeling the terms of the divorce were "not fair" will likely not be enough without some evidence to back up the claim.

Modifying Child Support

Under Illinois law, child support may be modified at any point following the entry of a final divorce settlement. Either parent may petition the trial court for a change in the child support amount. In order to receive a change in support, the petitioning party must show a substantial change in circumstances that would make the current support amount improper. For example, if the paying party received a substantial raise or loses her job, the court may find the requisite change in circumstances. A petition for a change in child support may be brought at any time following the entry of a final divorce settlement until the support order has officially ended, which occurs when the youngest child reaches 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.

Modifying Custody Agreement

As with child support, a custody agreement can be modified after the entry of a final divorce decree. However, if you petition for a change in custody within two years of the entry of a final custody judgment, you must show the child's current living situation may present a serious danger to her. After two years, you will only be required to prove that a change is necessary based on clear and convincing evidence. This is easier to prove than the "serious danger" requirement, but still requires you to provide evidence that having the child under your care would be in her best interests.