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In re Marriage of Mulry

June 22, 2000

IN RE: THE MARRIAGE OF DONNA L. MULRY, N/K/A DONNA L. BARTLETT, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND JAMES T. MULRY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.


Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 85D891 Honorable Steven H. Nardulli, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McCULLOUGH

On July 17, 1986, the trial court entered a judgment dissolving the marriage of petitioner, Donna L. Mulry, now known as Donna L. Bartlett (Donna), and respondent, James T. Mulry (James). The judgment for divorce incorporated a separation agreement providing for the support of two daughters, one now deceased (Amanda). The surviving daughter, Brianne, attends the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. On September 1, 1998, James filed a motion for clarification and/or modification of judgment. James sought to terminate his child support obligation, seeking clarification of the parties' separation agreement or, in the alternative, based upon a substantial change in circumstances. On August 10, 1999, the trial court denied the motion for clarification and/or modification. On September 9, 1999, James filed a motion to reconsider. On October 7, 1999, the trial court denied the motion. James appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court erred in its interpretation of the separation agreement, and (2) the trial court erred in refusing to modify his child support obligation.

We affirm.

The separation agreement of July 17, 1986, provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

"ARTICLE IV

Support of Children and Related Matters

1. Except as otherwise provided herein, James shall pay to Donna as and for the support and maintenance of Amanda and Brianne, the sum of Eight Hundred Dollars ($800.00) per month ***.

5. James' obligations for support *** shall continue until that child attains full emancipation as defined in Article VII of this Agreement.

ARTICLE VI

Education of Children and Other Related Matters

3. James shall pay eighty percent (80%) of the *** college *** expenses ***; Donna shall pay the remaining twenty percent (20%).

***

ARTICLE VII

Emancipation Event

1. *** [T]he 'Emancipation Event' shall occur or be deemed to have occurred upon the earliest to happen of any of the following, at which time James' and Donna's obligations for each ...


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