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Ringstrom v. Ringstrom

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 19, 1981.

HELEN M. RINGSTROM, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

LARRY ALLEN RINGSTROM, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. CARL A. LUND, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Marriage.

Divorce.

Remarriage.

Another divorce.

Husband now liable for child support arrearages under first decree?

No.

We affirm.

Plaintiff appeals the trial court's order dismissing a rule to show cause why defendant should not be held in contempt for failing to pay child support arrearages for the years 1971 to 1974, and 1976 to 1977. The parties were originally married in 1965, separated in 1971, and a decree of divorce based on mental cruelty was entered by the trial court on June 15, 1971. A negotiated property settlement was approved by the court and custody of their minor children was granted to plaintiff, with defendant to pay child support in the amount of $150 per month.

On July 18, 1977, the parties were remarried to each other. They were again divorced on May 25, 1978.

On October 30, 1980, plaintiff filed a petition for rule to show cause alleging that defendant had failed to pay child support for the years 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, and 1977. She alleges that from June 15, 1971, until July 18, 1977 — the date of a remarriage of the parties — defendant amassed child support arrearages in the sum of $6,800 after deducting payments of slightly more than $4,000 which he made during that period. Plaintiff asked the trial court to enforce the 1971 divorce decree requiring child support payments and a rule to show cause was entered by the trial court.

On January 28, 1981, a hearing was held on the rule to show cause. The trial court held, as a matter of law, that there could not be a claim for arrearages in child support based upon the 1971 decree. The court further ruled that any issue as to arrearages should have been raised in the 1978 dissolution proceedings.

A petition for rehearing and to vacate the trial court's order was denied and a written order dismissing the rule to show cause was filed on May 20, 1981.

On appeal, plaintiff argues that the remarriage of the parties to each other did not affect the validity of the 1971 divorce decree and that the trial court retained jurisdiction to enforce its provisions. Alternatively, plaintiff contends that since child support arrearages are personal obligations, the rule to show cause is supported by language in the 1978 ...


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