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12/30/88 In Re Marriage of Yisrael Pickholtz

December 30, 1988



and SHARON PICKHOLTZ CHAMBERS, Respondent-Appellant

(Continental Illinois National Bank, Party


533 N.E.2d 529, 178 Ill. App. 3d 512, 127 Ill. Dec. 657 1988.IL.1924

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. John Beatty, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE HARTMAN delivered the opinion of the court. SCARIANO and EGAN, JJ., concur.


Respondent Sharon Pickholtz Chambers (Sharon) appeals from the circuit court's denial of her amended petition to increase child support and amended post-trial motion seeking further relief, and asks this court to determine whether these denials constituted an abuse of the circuit court's discretion.

A divorce agreement, dated July 5, 1979, between Sharon and petitioner Yisrael Pickholtz (Yisrael) was entered as a judgment on December 17, 1979, in the District Rabbinical Court in Beersheba, Israel. By agreed order entered May 4, 1981 (1981 order or order), the circuit court of Cook County enrolled and established the Beersheba judgment for the purpose of enforcing and modifying its custody and parental visitation provisions, and incorporated the following findings: (1) Sharon and Yisrael married in 1971; (2) they moved to Israel in 1973; (3) two children, Yerachmiel and Merav-Yehudit (Merav), were born to the Pickholtzes in 1973 and 1976, respectively; and (4) the Pickholtzes divorced in 1979. Sharon and both children moved to the United States in 1980, where she remarried in 1981.

The 1981 order also granted Sharon full custody of the children, allowing them biannual visits with their father in Israel and permitting Yisrael to travel to the United States for the purpose of exercising additional visitation rights. In the order, the parties expressed a desire that the children "be reared in traditional Jewish values" and that they "attend Jewish parochial schools unless there is a bona fide reason why they should not."

Noting that "Yisrael . . . is a man of modest means and does not have the financial ability to pay the costs and expenses of the transportation which the visitation schedule . . . will entail," the order additionally set forth the parties' financial agreement whereby: (1) Sharon would deposit $80,000 in an escrow account to remain in effect until 1994 when Merav turns 18; (2) upon expiration, the account would be liquidated and Yisrael would receive $40,000 as his sole property; (3) Sharon guaranteed that the annual net income or "payable net income" on the escrowed funds would equal at least $10,000; (4) up to $11,600 of the payable net income would be used: (a) to pay for all airline tickets purchased by Yisrael and the children in furtherance of Yisrael's visitation rights; and (b) for support and maintenance of the children during the time they spent with their father in Israel and the United States; (5) any payable net income remaining would become Yisrael's "sole and separate property"; and (6) Sharon could claim any income earned on the escrowed funds, less the payable net income. The order also obligated Sharon to pay all escrow fees and costs relating to the escrow agreement and any cost of airline tickets not satisfied by the payable net income. Yisrael was required to pay 1,377 Israeli shekels per month for child support; any additional money needed to support the children had to be supplied by Sharon. Finally, in the event either party attempted to modify the terms of the order or petitioned to increase child support payments, the opposite party would be entitled to receive the entire escrowed funds.

Sharon in 1984 petitioned the circuit court to declare void paragraphs 5 through 9 of the order, requiring Sharon to "fund a trust essentially for the benefit of Yisrael" and precluding her from seeking additional child support, and to join the escrowee, Continental Illinois National Bank, as a party defendant to the lawsuit. On May 6, 1986, the provisions of the order which made awards for child support and education expenses non-modifiable and prescribed forfeiture of Sharon's interest in the funds should she seek modification of the order were declared void and nonbinding.

Sharon additionally filed an amended petition for increased child support, citing sections 503(g) and 513 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, pars. 503(g), 513), and alleging the occurrence of "a substantial and material change in [the parties'] circumstances creating a substantial imbalance between the needs of the minor children and the ability of the parties to pay support and warranting an increase in Yisrael's . . . child support obligation," which included a decrease in the parties' ability to pay the escalating costs of the children's support and private education. Also sought was the court's protection and promotion of the children's best interests by requiring Yisrael's realistic fulfillment of his child support obligation; and therefore, money ...

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