In dissolution proceedings, The Trial Court entered a parenting agreement. It granted sole care, custody, and control of the parties’ two sons to the children’s mother.

It is now three years later. Father filed for modification. He alleged that his move to Indianapolis was a substantial change in circumstances. He requested a majority of parenting time and sole decision-making.

The Trial Court granted the mother’s motion for a directed finding. It found that the father failed to prove a significant change in circumstances that affected the overall welfare of the children.

Then the Trial Court entered modifications. Mother appealed.

The mother raises four arguments on appeal. First, she contends that once the trial court determined that the father failed to establish a substantial change in circumstances affecting the children’s overall welfare. And granted her motion for a directed finding on that point. The case should have been terminated. She contends that the trial court thereafter lacked the authority to modify the parenting agreement.

The court had “elected” to make significant modifications to the parenting agreement that the father did not request. Father argued that the modifications were proper. He argued that his petition requested “any other and further relief this court deems equitable and just.”

The Appellate Court stated that the denial of the father’s petition had terminated the case. A court has the authority to modify a parenting plan or allocation judgment pursuant to section 610.5(c) of the Act if (1) a substantial change has occurred since the existing parenting plan or allocation judgment was entered and (2) the modification is necessary to serve the child’s best interests.

Here, the Trial Court granted the mother’s motion to terminate the case. Father had failed to prove a “significant change in circumstances” that affected the “overall welfare of the children.” That decision should have terminated the case.

In re Marriage of Burns, 2019 IL App (2d) 180715 (March 10, 2019).

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