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In Re Marriage of Reyna



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County; the Hon. ROBERT J. HORBERG, Judge, presiding.


Respondent Pablo Reyna appeals from the judgment of the Circuit Court of Rock Island County, entered in the divorce action filed by Alma Reyna, as the judgment relates to child support and maintenance. The parties, by stipulation, had settled all matters in the divorce proceeding other than the questions of maintenance and child support, which were submitted to the trial court for determination. After considering the evidence of the parties' housing and related situations, needs, obligations, financial status, and past history, the circuit court entered a temporary award for maintenance and support of approximately $556. It also specified a permanent award, conditioned upon the sale of two parcels of real estate by Pablo Reyna. The permanent award was approximately $700 monthly, being $35 per week maintenance for Alma Reyna and $35 per week child support for each of the couple's four children, all of whom remained in the custody of their mother. From the judgment making these awards, Pablo Reyna appeals. He argues that the award of maintenance was not justified by his former wife's situation and that she ought to obtain employment. He also argues that the child-support and maintenance awards are excessive and unduly burdensome. The third issue raised concerns whether the court considered the relevant factors in entering its awards and whether the court was required to set forth its findings.

The pertinent parts of the record on appeal indicate that the parties were married in 1967 and had four children during the marriage, all daughters and aged 11, 10, 8 and 1 1/2, respectively, at the time of the divorce action. The Reynas had separated in August 1978, and Mrs. Reyna filed for a divorce in November 1978. According to the terms of the stipulation and the order of the circuit court, Mrs. Reyna was to retain the care and custody of the four children. She rents an apartment for herself and the girls at a cost of $200 per month, with her utilities, including gas, lights, and phone, costing about $56 monthly. She spends approximately $240 per month on food for the family and $90 monthly on clothing. Gasoline costs her approximately $80 monthly. Her monthly expense total, outside of any incidentals, comes to approximately $666. She also receives food stamps. Mrs. Reyna is not employed and has not been since the separation of the parties. She stated that she quit work because, when she and her husband separated, he was no longer available for baby-sitting and she had to assume full-time domestic duties. Previously, she had worked at three different jobs during 1978, earning a total of $1,904. By the terms of the separation agreement, she received the couple's household goods and furnishings and their 1974 station wagon. The only real estate they had acquired, two lots valued at $5,000, was retained by Pablo Reyna to be sold, with the proceeds to be applied toward the couple's debts, totaling near $8,000.

The evidence as to Mr. Reyna's situation indicated that he was employed as a police officer for the city of Moline, earning a basic salary of $1,328 monthly, with take-home pay of approximately $740. It was also established that in 1978, in addition to the approximately $16,100 regular salary from the city, he also had income of nearly $8,000 from work in construction in the area. His testimony concerning that income was that further construction work was uncertain and potentially conflicting with his police duties. Also brought forth in the record, is the fact that in the first quarter of 1979, Mr. Reyna earned $5,386.59 from his employment with the city (the excess above basic salary came from overtime duty). If such earnings were to continue, his yearly income from the city would amount to over $21,500. Mr. Reyna testified that additional overtime was also uncertain to continue.

Mr. Reyna established debts in the total amount of approximately $8,500, requiring monthly payments of $266, $210 of which was deducted from his check by the credit union. By stipulation and order of the court, much of this debt, possibly $6,000, would be satisfied from the sale of the two lots owned by the Reynas. Mr. Reyna placed a value of at least $5,000 on this real estate. Pablo Reyna's monthly expenses included $150 for rent, $83 for utilities, $240 for food (at $8 per day), and $73 for laundry and cleaning. This totals $546 monthly, and if a $56 monthly debt payment is included, the total becomes $612 monthly.

After examining and considering the above evidence as to the parties' situations, the circuit court entered a temporary maintenance and custody award of approximately $550. This included $200 for Mrs. Reyna and the children's rent, $50 for their utilities, and $300 ($75 per week for all the children) for support. Mrs. Reyna testified that she would have difficulty getting by on that award. The court also set a permanent award for maintenance and child support. It ordered Pablo Reyna to pay $35 per week per child in support, totaling approximately $560 monthly, and $35 per week maintenance, totaling approximately $140 monthly. The total maintenance and support obligations placed upon Mr. Reyna under the terms of the permanent award would be slightly over $700 monthly. The permanent award would not take effect, the court ordered, until the lots had been sold and Mr. Reyna was thus relieved of a major portion of his debts and the monthly payment they required. Mr. Reyna appeals from the awards, arguing that no maintenance at all ought to have been given his wife and that the maintenance and support awards were excessive, making it impossible for him to live on the moneys left over after paying those obligations.

The applicable provisions of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (hereinafter Divorce Act) are sections 504 and 505. Section 504 provides:

"(a) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation or declaration of invalidity of marriage, or a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of the marriage by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse, only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance:

(1) lacks sufficient property, including marital property apportioned to him, to provide for his reasonable needs, and

(2) is unable to support himself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or

(3) is otherwise without sufficient income.

(b) The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, after consideration of all relevant factors, including:

(1) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including marital property apportioned to him, and his ability to meet his needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party as custodian;

(2) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to ...

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