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12/10/87 In Re Marriage of Valerie J. Rowden

December 10, 1987

IN RE MARRIAGE OF VALERIE J. ROWDEN, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

and DAVID L. ROWDEN, Respondent-Appellant

516 N.E.2d 1041, 163 Ill. App. 3d 869, 114 Ill. Dec. 886 1987.IL.1832

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Tazewell County; the Hon. Bruce W. Black, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE STOUDER delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and HEIPLE, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE STOUDER

The respondent, David L. Rowden (the husband), appeals from a trial court order finding him in contempt for failing to make certain payments pursuant to the judgment dissolving his marriage to the petitioner, Valerie J. Rowden (the wife). We affirm.

On September 27, 1985, the circuit court entered a judgment dissolving the parties' marriage of 22 years. The relevant portion of that judgment provided:

"E. That the defendant shall pay all debts incurred during the marriage prior to this date including all money owed to the Construction Equipment Credit Union on the 1984 Mercury Cougar awarded to the Plaintiff herein in lieu of maintenance to the Plaintiff and shall save the Plaintiff harmless in connection with all marital debts.

Q. That any right, claim, demand or interest of the parties in and to maintenance for themselves, whether past, present or future, and in and to the property of the other, whether real, personal or mixed, of whatsoever kind and nature and wheresoever situated, including, but not limited by homestead, succession and inheritance, arising out of the marital relationship or other relationship existing between the parties hereto, is forever barred and terminated excepting the fact that the Defendant is to pay the marital indebtedness in lieu of maintenance to the Plaintiff."

On December 21, 1985, the wife remarried. On April 17, 1986, the husband filed for voluntary bankruptcy under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code (the Code). (11 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. (Supp. IV 1986).) The wife subsequently intervened, contesting the dischargeability of the credit union car loan (the loan). On November 19, 1986, the bankruptcy court entered an order deferring to the State court on the question of whether the wife's remarriage terminated the husband's obligation to pay the loan.

On December 5, 1986, the wife filed a petition for a rule to show cause why the husband should not be found in contempt for failure to pay the loan. In its decision on the rule to show cause, the trial court first found that the husband's obligation to pay the marital debts was an apportionment of property in lieu of maintenance and did not terminate upon the wife's remarriage. The trial court then found that the husband's obligation to assume the marital debts and hold the wife harmless was not merely a division of property but rather was intended to be "in the nature of maintenance." The court reasoned that the judgment expressly stated that the assumption of the debts was in lieu of maintenance, and that given the parties' respective jobs at the time of the dissolution, the wife would have been entitled to maintenance had she sought it.

On appeal, the husband's first argument is that the trial court erred in finding that the loan was a nonterminable property settlement. The husband argues that the loan obligation was actually periodic maintenance which terminated upon the wife's remarriage.

Three spouse support payment methods are relevant here. The first method is periodic maintenance, an allowance carved out of the husband's estate, for the support of the wife. (Adler v. Adler (1940), 373 Ill. 361, 26 N.E.2d 504.) The payments under periodic maintenance are for an indefinite period of time and usually for an indefinite amount. As such, the payments may be changed or terminated upon a change in circumstances of either spouse. (Ihle v. Ihle (1981), 92 Ill. App. 3d 893, 416 N.E.2d 366.) Pursuant to section 510(b) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 510(b)), unless ...


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