What constitutes a substantial change in circumstances? My husband is the non-custodial parent of his son from a previous marriage and we want to change that so he is the custodial parent. It has been over 2 years since they signed their parenting agreement and since that time the following has occured: 1. The ex-wife has remarried and has gone from being a single parent of one to a mother of 6 (4 stepchildren, 1 child from marriage w/my husband, 1 child with new husband). 2. Due to the increased number of people in the household my husband's son is forced to share a room with his 10 year old stepsister (his son is only 5). 3. We feel his stepbrother (15) is a negative influence on his son as he tries to get him to do things he doesn't want to do (hurt his sister, etc.) His son has expressed "being nervous" when he is at his mothers not because of the older stepbrother. 4. New husband smokes in the house when son is in their care. Is this enough to prove a substantial change in circumstances? My husband's son would not have to change schools/friends as we live in the same school district so he would have continuity in that area.
First let me advise you that I am not licensed in the state of Illinois and laws will vary from state to state. It is sometimes difficult to define a substantial change in circumstance. The mere fact that mother has remarried is not likely to be enough. If you can prove that the remarriage has created an unhealthy environment for the child it may be a factor. You mentioned that new husband is a smoker. Does the child have a medical condition that makes smoking especially harmful to him? Ultimately, custody decisions are made based on the best interest of the child. Modifications of custody are usually more difficult. It may be helpful to contact an attorney in your area. They should be familiar with the court in your area and what that court perceives as a change in circumstance.