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In Re Marriage of John J. Nilles v. Judith L. Nilles

August 9, 2011

IN RE MARRIAGE OF JOHN J. NILLES,
PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
JUDITH L. NILLES,
RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



No. 98-D-3239 Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County.Honorable Linda E. Davenport, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Schostok

JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Burke and Hudson concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Respondent, Judith L. Nilles, appeals from the trial court's order modifying the maintenance obligations of petitioner, John J. Nilles, under the parties' marital settlement agreement. Respondent contends that the trial court lacked the authority to modify petitioner's maintenance obligations, because the parties' agreement expressly provided that the maintenance was non-modifiable and because the parties' agreement could not be declared unconscionable 10 years after it was incorporated into the judgment of dissolution. For the reasons that follow, we reverse.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 In February 1999, the trial court entered a judgment dissolving the marriage of the parties. The judgment of dissolution incorporated a marital settlement agreement between the parties. The agreement provided the following with respect to maintenance:

"2.1. The Husband covenants and agrees that he will pay to the Wife as and for permanent non-modifiable maintenance, the sum of Eight Thousand Dollars ($8,000.00) per month commencing on the first day of the month following the effective date of this Agreement and continuing on the first day of each month thereafter until said obligation is terminated upon the provisions of Article II, paragraphs [sic] 2.3 of this Article.

2.2. The parties acknowledge and stipulate that the payments set forth in this Article shall not be subject to modification for any reason whatsoever pursuant to the provisions of Section 502(f) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

2.3. Without regard for any provision hereof to the contrary, the Husband's obligation to pay and the Wife's right to receive the payments set forth in this Article shall terminate only upon the first to occur of the following events:

(a) The death of the Husband;

(b) The death of the Wife;

(c) The remarriage of the Wife; or

(d) The Wife's cohabitation with a member of the opposite sex on a resident, continuing and conjugal basis."

The article on maintenance also provided that petitioner was to provide respondent with the use of a leased and insured Lincoln Towncar and to maintain, as security for the maintenance payments, a life insurance policy on himself in the amount of $1,250,000, with respondent named as the primary beneficiary. The agreement also provided that petitioner was to pay the premiums for respondent's health insurance and ...


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