Types of Illinois Child Custody Orders

Courts can issue a variety of orders in child custody cases (officially known as cases about parental responsibilities and parenting time).

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Emergency orders

A custody case can have two types of emergency orders: emergency orders of protection and emergency custody orders.

To successfully request either type of order, you must prove why it's necessary, keeping in mind that the judge will only consider information directly related to the emergency.

When issuing an emergency order, the judge schedules a later hearing to decide whether to extend the order, terminate it or replace it with a temporary order.

Emergency orders of protection

An emergency order of protection, often called a restraining order, is meant to protect you and your family for up to 21 days.

You can file for a protection order on behalf of a family or household member.

You don't have to notify the other parent when you request this kind of order. In fact, the hearing to decide whether it gets issued often takes place without them (ex parte, in legal speak) within a few hours of the request. Hearings can occur with an on-call judge outside of court hours or on holidays, if necessary.

Emergency orders of protection are enforceable immediately.

Emergency custody orders

An emergency custody order temporarily allocates parental responsibilities and parenting time when a child's well-being is at risk. Unlike an order of protection, it wouldn't necessarily restrict your co-parent's access to your child.

The parent requesting emergency custody must attempt to notify the other parent of the hearing about the issue.

Emergency custody orders are enforceable once the other parent has been informed of the details.

Temporary orders

Your judge may order two types of temporary orders: interim orders of protection and temporary custody orders.

Either parent can request temporary orders, or a judge may issue temporary orders to replace emergency orders.

Interim orders of protection

This type of order protects you and your family from the other parent for up to 30 days, until the judge can issue a plenary order of protection.

An interim order of protection can only be granted after the other party has been served (officially delivered) a copy of the petition for protection.

Temporary custody orders

A temporary custody order provides short-term solutions to parenting disputes that aren't emergencies but can't wait until the end of legal proceedings.

These orders often allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time for the duration of the court process. They remain in effect until a judge modifies them or issues a final judgment.

Parents can agree on temporary custody orders or ask the court for a determination.

While temporary custody orders are not meant to influence final judgments, if a temporary situation is stable, the court may continue it in a final judgment.

Final judgments

Your judge may sign two types of final judgments: plenary orders of protection and final custody judgments.

Plenary orders of protection

A plenary order of protection is a long-term restraining order. It replaces any interim orders of protection and lasts up to two years.

This kind of final judgment can only be granted after a hearing with both parties.

When your order of protection runs out, you can ask the court to renew it for another two years.

Final custody judgments

A final custody judgment allocates parental responsibilities and parenting time for each child in a case. It may also mandate substance abuse treatment, parenting coordination or other conditions for parents.

A final custody judgment replaces any temporary custody orders. It lasts until one of the following occurs:

  • The child involved turns 18.
  • The child is emancipated.
  • The parents reach an alternate agreement and have it approved.
  • A parent proves a new order is necessary.

Keep in mind that orders for child support are handled differently. Child support usually continues until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school.

Final judgments can be reached in two ways. Preferably, the parties draw up the terms together, and a judge signs off to finalize, as long as it's in the child's best interests. Known as settling, this is considered the gold standard as it keeps families in charge of their own lives. Alternatively, a judge rules based on the evidence from a trial.

If a parent wants to challenge a judge's decision, they can appeal to a higher court and begin the court process again.

Modifying a final custody judgment

If parents want to modify a final custody judgment, they have two options.

First, they can agree on a new parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval.

If parents can't agree, they can ask the court to modify the plan for them. This may require mediation, hearings or a trial.

To ask the court to modify more than two years after a judgment was issued, you must prove that a significant change has occurred and that modification would be in the child's best interests.

If the judge issued orders less than two years ago, modifying is more difficult. You must prove the child's best interests are at serious risk.

Enforcing a final judgment

If the other parent doesn't follow orders issued by a court, you should keep detailed records of the violations. You can use your Custody X Change journal or actual parenting time tracker.

You can bring the matter before the court to enforce the final judgment. Provide a copy of your records to the court before the hearing. Note that the other parent will see them and can provide their own evidence.

For serious or repeat violations, you can contact the police or file for contempt of court. The form you file is called a Petition for Rule to Show Cause because it requires the other parent to show the cause of their behavior and why they should not be held in contempt. Speak to an attorney because contempt of court cases are serious and typically are criminal proceedings.

Following court orders correctly

When a court issues orders, you must follow them. If you don't, you can be brought back to court, fined and more.

But orders are complicated, especially for parenting time. When exactly does "Week 2" begin this month? Who gets Thanksgiving Day this year?

Use Custody X Change to plug your order into a calendar you can edit, share and print so you'll never have to wonder whether you're following the order correctly.

With the Custody X Change online app, you can combine schedules for the school year, summer break and holidays into one calendar.

You can even track how well court orders are being followed with our parenting time tracker and parenting journal.

Custody X Change has all the tools you need to set your new parenting arrangement up for success.

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