The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Quinn
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County
Honorable Julian Frazin, judge Presiding.
Appellant, now known as Florence Mesirow (Mesirow), appeals from a circuit court order dismissing her petition for rule to show cause and other relief. The petition requested that the circuit court order appellee, Todd Chapman (Chapman), to direct his trustees to pay child support from certain trusts. Chapman is the sole beneficiary of these trusts and has a limited power of appointment under the spendthrift provisions.
For the following reasons, we reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand with directions.
The underlying facts of this case are as follows. Mesirow obtained a judgment for dissolution of marriage on October 12, 1993. The judgment incorporated a marital settlement agreement entered into on that same date.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Chapman was to pay $3,200 per month in unallocated maintenance and child support. Chapman's obligation to pay maintenance terminated in the event of Mesirow's remarriage, but Chapman would still be obligated to pay child support in the amount of $2,000 per month. Mesirow remarried in December 1995.
Chapman filed a petition for modification of unallocated maintenance and child support on September 13, 1995, claiming that he suffered a significant reduction in income. Without a court order, Chapman unilaterally reduced his support payments from October 1995 through March 1996, resulting in an arrearage of $9,210.
On April 10, 1996, Mesirow filed a petition for rule to show cause why Chapman should not be held in contempt for the arrearage in child support. In her petition, Mesirow first argued that the condition that maintenance cease upon Mesirow's remarriage should not be enforced because Chapman's reduction in support payments forced Mesirow to advance her wedding date. Second, Mesirow sought judgment and damages for Chapman's arrearage in support payments. Finally, Mesirow requested that the court order Chapman to exercise his limited power of appointment to direct the trustees of Chapman's spendthrift trusts to pay $2,000 per month in future child support.
Chapman moved to dismiss the petition, and the court entered an order granting the motion to dismiss. Mesirow appeals from this order. We address Mesirow's arguments as to the payment of child support arrearages and as to the direction of payment of future child support from the spendthrift trusts.
On appeal, appellant's brief only argues as to the direction of payment from Chapman's trusts.
However, pursuant to our authority under Supreme Court Rule 366 to affirm, reverse, or modify the judgment of the circuit court on any grounds present in the record, we reverse the dismissal of appellant's petition for the payment of past arrearages in child support. 134 Ill. 2d R. 366.
Upon review of the record, there is ample support for awarding judgment and damages to appellant for appellee's arrearage in child support payments. Under the statutory scheme of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1403 (West 1994)), the Non-Support of Spouse and Children Act (Non-Support Act) (750 ILCS 15/4.1. (West 1994)), the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Marriage and Dissolution Act) (750 ILCS 5/706.1. (West 1994)), and the public policy expressed in the case law, a court may order the withholding of payments from a trust to satisfy a child support judgment.
In the seminal case of In re Matt, 105 Ill. 2d 330, 473 N.E.2d 1310 (1985), the Illinois Supreme Court held that income from a spendthrift trust is subject to garnishment to collect past-due child support under the Non-Support Act. The supreme court held that it "is the public policy of Illinois to ensure that support judgments are enforced by all available means." (Emphasis added.) Matt, 105 Ill. 2d at 334.
Under the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Code), income from a spendthrift trust is generally exempt from invasion to satisfy judgments. 735 ILCS 5/2-1403 (West 1994). However, after Matt, section 2-1403 of the Code was amended (Pub. Act. 85-907, art. II, §1, eff. November 23, 1987) to provide for the collection of child support:
"The income or principal of a trust shall be subject to withholding for the purpose of securing collection of unpaid child support obligations owed by the beneficiary as provided in Section 4.1 of the `Non-Support of Spouse and Children Act' and similar ...