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05/12/87 In Re Marriage of Judith M. Lyons

May 12, 1987



JEROME LYONS, Respondent-Appellant

508 N.E.2d 458, 155 Ill. App. 3d 300, 108 Ill. Dec. 297 1987.IL.612

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Robert A. Cox, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE DUNN delivered the opinion of the court. INGLIS and WOODWARD, JJ., concur.


Respondent, Jerome Lyons, appeals from orders entered by the circuit court of Du Page County which denied his petition to reduce unallocated support payments, granted petitioner's petition to reinstate support payments, denied respondent's motion to reconsider, and granted petitioner's motion to strike respondent's second petition to reduce. Respondent also appeals a subsequent order which found him in contempt for failure to make required support payments.

The parties' marriage of 20 years was dissolved on June 22, 1984. The parties had three children during the marriage: Christopher, born May 4, 1965; Jeffrey, born April 26, 1967; and Carrie Lynn, born October 29, 1969. At the time of the dissolution, Christopher was a student at the University of Illinois in Champaign, while the other children were attending high school.

The dissolution decree incorporated a settlement agreement by which respondent was to pay to petitioner $1,200 per month as unallocated support. That amount was to be reduced to $1,000 per month if Jeffrey attended a "commuter" college and continued to live with petitioner or $900 per month if Jeffrey lived away from petitioner while attending college. When Jeffrey completed college, payments would further drop to $500 per month until Carrie Lynn completed college, was emancipated, or married. Any payments under $750 per month were to be considered child support only, and payments would drop by $150 per month in the event of petitioner's remarriage or continued residency on a conjugal basis with a man not her husband.

At the time of the dissolution, respondent was employed by Oak Brook Mechanical, installing and servicing heating and air conditioning systems. His income from Oak Brook Mechanical for 1984 was between $38,000 and $40,000. He also worked "side jobs" during the marriage from which he earned approximately $5,000 per year. Respondent was not working when the decree was entered, however, due to a work-related injury, although he was collecting disability benefits. Petitioner was making $185 per week as a part-time legal secretary. The parties owned a marital home in Lisle and rental property in Elmhurst.

In the summer of 1985, Jeffrey moved in with respondent, and respondent petitioned to have the support payments lowered according to the settlement agreement. Payments were lowered to $900 per month. Jeffrey soon moved back with petitioner, however, and began attending College of Du Page, a "commuter" college.

In October 1985, respondent unilaterally reduced payments to $75 per week. He then filed a petition for post-judgment relief, requesting termination of any maintenance obligation and a reduction or abatement of child-support payments. He claimed that, although released by his doctor in November 1984 to return to work following his injury, he was unable to continue the heavy work of repairing and installing heating and air conditioning systems due to pain in his injured foot. He testified that he was forced to quit the job with Oak Brook Mechanical in April 1985 and took a job as a salesman for Guardian Heating and Air Conditioning, where he was paid $500 per week, plus a $300 monthly car expense allowance. Respondent quit that job in August 1985 and began another sales job with Unique Indoor Comfort, where he was paid on a commission basis only. He received $1,800 from that job in 1985.

At a hearing on respondent's petition, petitioner testified that she was then making $304 per week net income, having begun full-time work as a legal secretary. She had received the marital residence in the settlement and at the time of the hearing had contracted to sell the house for $178,000. The outstanding mortgage was approximately $50,000. A money market account, worth $20,000 at the time of dissolution, was worth $26,000 at the time of the hearing. Petitioner claimed that she was barely able to meet the family's needs on the amount she then received, but also testified that she had established an IRA account which she planned to increase by depositing her tax refund.

There was evidence that the children had substantial amounts saved for college and that they were working part-time jobs, but that they were not contributing any of ...

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