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01/08/97 ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT PUBLIC AID v. RODNEY

January 8, 1997

ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AID, EX REL. JACQUELYNN JENNINGS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RODNEY R. WHITE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Knox County, Illinois. No. 92--F--264. Honorable Greg McClintock, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication February 21, 1997.

Present - Honorable Michael P. McCUSKEY, Justice, Honorable William E. Holdridge, Justice, Honorable Peg Breslin, Justice. Justice McCUSKEY delivered the opinion of the court. Breslin and Holdridge, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mccuskey

JUSTICE McCUSKEY delivered the opinion of the court:

The defendant, Rodney White, appeals from an order of the trial court which found his Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) settlement was "income" for child support purposes. The trial court based its finding on section 505 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Act) (750 ILCS 5/505 (West 1994)). After carefully reviewing the record, we affirm.

FACTS

On October 17, 1989, Jacquelynn Jennings gave birth to Cody Jennings. The defendant was never married to Jacquelynn. The Illinois Department of Public Aid (Public Aid) established the defendant's paternity of Cody on April 16, 1993, and the defendant was ordered to pay child support. However, on August 26, 1993, the defendant's child support obligation was abated to zero due to his lack of income.

On June 15, 1992, the defendant sustained injuries to his back while employed by Burlington Northern Railroad (Burlington Northern). Pursuant to FELA, the defendant filed a lawsuit against Burlington Northern. On September 14, 1995, the defendant settled his case with Burlington Northern for $200,000.

Subsequently, Public Aid filed a petition to modify the defendant's child support obligation. The basis of Public Aid's petition was the defendant's increased income from his FELA settlement. A hearing was held which determined that the following expenses were deducted from the settlement amount:

Case expenses: $9,285.65

Attorney fees: $47,678.59

Personal expenses: $7,390.82

Contribution to Railroad

retirement board: $6,023.96

Unpaid bills: $500.00

SUB-TOTAL: $70,879.02

In addition to the above-referenced expenses, the defendant testified that he borrowed $1,200 per month against his anticipated settlement for monthly living expenses. The total loan amount was $37,578.87. The defendant stated that he is currently living with and supporting his girlfriend, as well as three additional children he has fathered out-of-wedlock.

The Special Assistant State's Attorney filed two requests to produce in an attempt to force the defendant to submit documentation concerning the breakdown of his FELA award. ...


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