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06/29/88 In Re Marriage of Martin Eisenstein

June 29, 1988

IN RE MARRIAGE OF MARTIN EISENSTEIN, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

and BEVERLY EISENSTEIN, Respondent-Appellee

526 N.E.2d 496, 172 Ill. App. 3d 264, 122 Ill. Dec. 237 1988.IL.1015

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Julia Nowicki, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court. WHITE, P.J., and RIZZI, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCNAMARA

Petitioner Martin Eisenstein filed a post-divorce judgment petition seeking to reduce his obligation to pay unallocated maintenance and child support to his former wife, respondent Beverly Eisenstein. The trial court denied the petition, finding no substantial and material change in circumstances had occurred since the dissolution of the marriage which warranted a reduction of support payments. On appeal, petitioner claims the trial court abused its discretion and ruled against the manifest weight of the evidence. Petitioner further appeals from the court's finding of contempt against him for failure to make payments in compliance with the court judgment.

The marriage of petitioner and respondent was dissolved on June 7, 1982. At that time, the parties had two adult children and one minor child. The judgment incorporated a written separation agreement, by which the parties agreed that petitioner would pay respondent unallocated maintenance and child support in the amount of $2,600 per month for 35 months after the inception of the agreement, May 1982, subject to reduction upon the sale of the former marital home. They also agreed petitioner would pay support in the amount of $2,166 per month commencing May 1, 1985, for 47 months and $1,733 per month commencing on May 1, 1989, for 11 months.

Pursuant to the separation agreement, the parties agreed that respondent would receive total ownership of the marital residence, while each party retained sole interest in property under his or her control, including all businesses, partnerships, corporations and other business ventures. Thereby, petitioner received the interest in his business ventures and real estate along with the accompanying liabilities. Petitioner released respondent of any responsibility for $625,000 in liabilities incurred by several of his business concerns.

Petitioner complied in full with his obligation pursuant to the agreement until May 1, 1985, at which time he reduced the amount of his payments from $2,166 per month to $1,000 per month. At the same time, he filed a petition for modification of judgment claiming a substantial and material change in circumstances since the time of the judgment; he prayed that the court reduce or terminate his obligation to pay maintenance and support. Respondent filed a petition for a rule to show cause and for other relief alleging that petitioner was in arrears in his obligation to pay support. In September and October 1986, the trial court heard the following evidence.

Petitioner's primary business venture was Standard Industrial and Automotive Equipment, an automotive and shop equipment concern owned by petitioner with a partner. In 1981, petitioner drew a salary of $52,000 plus a bonus of approximately $15,000 from Standard. In 1982, petitioner earned $40,330 and no bonus from Standard. In 1985, petitioner received a salary of $14,700 from this concern. At the time of the hearing, petitioner testified that business was slow but he was receiving approximately $1,500 per month from Standard and the salary was automatically sent to the Bank Leumi to repay a loan owed by G & M Partners, another business owned by petitioner.

At the time of the hearing, petitioner owned a 50% interest in Standard Automotive Warehouse. He and a partner are in the process of buying out a third party's interest. Petitioner testified that prior to the separation agreement, he received yearly income from Standard Warehouse in the amount of $15,000 which he immediately reinvested in the company. Neither petitioner's 1982 nor 1985 tax return reflects any income from Standard Warehouse. At the time of the hearing, petitioner testified that he was not receiving any income from Standard Warehouse.

In early 1982, petitioner owned an interest in an auto leasing company known as GJM Associates. This concern was sold prior to the dissolution.

Petitioner also owns a 50% interest in G & M Partners, Ltd., which is in the business of marketing an automotive device named "fueltron." Petitioner, his current spouse, and his partner signed a note to borrow approximately $150,000 to $200,000 to finance this concern. Petitioner's tax return reported an ordinary income loss on this venture in 1982 of $27,196. His 1985 tax return showed a G & M partnership loss of $4,631. Petitioner testified that G & M was not earning any income, and he ...


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