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09/17/87 In Re Marriage of Susan J. (Taylor) Wettstein

September 17, 1987

IN RE MARRIAGE OF SUSAN J. WETTSTEIN,


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

Petitioner-Appellee, and FRANK JEFFREY TAYLOR,

Respondent-Appellant

514 N.E.2d 783, 160 Ill. App. 3d 554, 113 Ill. Dec. 1 1987.IL.1364

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Woodford County; the Hon. John P. Freese, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court. GREEN and LUND, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE KNECHT

This dispute arises from an attempt by Susan J. Taylor Wettstein (Wettstein), to enforce the terms of a Cook County divorce judgment issued in 1970 and modified in 1971. On June 6, 1986, the circuit court of Woodford County granted her rule to show cause and petition to modify the judgment. It ordered her former husband Frank Jeffrey Taylor (Taylor), to pay accrued arrearage under the divorce judgment, medical payments for two of the minor children, prospective child support, and Wettstein's attorney fees. The court rejected Taylor's contention it was bound by previous support orders entered by an Ohio court from 1974 through 1985 pursuant to Wettstein's petition under the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 68, pars. 101 through 142 (now Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, pars. 1201 through 1242)). Taylor appeals, raising issues relating to full faith and credit, equitable estoppel, and whether the trial court's awards of child support and attorney fees represented an abuse of discretion. We affirm.

The parties were divorced in Cook County on August 4, 1970. They agreed Taylor would pay $460 per month for child support for the four minor children. That sum was reduced to $335 per month by order dated March 19, 1971.

On October 16, 1984, Wettstein filed a petition to enroll the Cook County divorce judgment in Woodford County. Taylor was served with summons in Montgomery County, Ohio, where he resided. The Woodford County circuit court established the Cook County divorce judgment and the March 19, 1971, order in Woodford County December 5, 1984.

Wettstein filed a petition for rule to show cause March 13, 1985, claiming an arrearage of $30,756.84 under the Cook County decree as modified. At that time two of the four children of the parties were still minors and lived with Wettstein: Laura, born October 30, 1967, and Amy, born June 1, 1969. A rule was ordered to issue on April 9, 1985.

In a motion to vacate the rule, Taylor argued he was not in arrears to the extent claimed. In support he submitted documents relating to a URESA action pursued by Wettstein beginning in 1974. These documents indicate on September 24, 1974, a hearing was held on the support obligation in the court of common pleas of Montgomery County, Ohio. Taylor appeared at this hearing. The court found Taylor owed a duty of support and ordered him to pay $70 per week for child support beginning October 8, 1974. Taylor was twice found in contempt for failure to pay. Following the first contempt finding on June 29, 1976, Taylor's weekly obligation was reduced to $50. On July 11, 1980, Taylor obtained an order of emancipation relating to James, the oldest child. His obligation was reduced to $37.50 per week. That amount was reduced to $25 weekly in February 1985, following entry of an emancipation order on Lisa, the second oldest child.

Wettstein filed a petition to modify the divorce decree September 27, 1985, in Woodford County circuit court. She sought an increase in support for the two remaining minor children, Laura and Amy. The alleged substantial change in circumstances was that Taylor had become employed as an attorney, and had paid less than $400 in child support in 1984. Wettstein requested an increase in child support payments plus attorney fees.

An amended petition for rule to show cause filed December 13, 1985, alleged Taylor failed to maintain medical and life insurance policies for the benefit of the minor children as required by the original decree. Wettstein also claimed Taylor failed to pay certain medical bills for treatment rendered to Lisa and Amy, ...


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