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In re Marriage of Popa

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division

August 23, 2013

In re MARRIAGE OF CIPRIAN POPA, Petitioner-Appellee, and ADRIANA GARCIA, Respondent-Appellant.

Held: [*]

In a marriage dissolution proceeding, the trial court did not err in creating a trust fund to enforce petitioner’s child support obligation pursuant to section 509 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act after respondent took the children and moved to Uruguay, since the circumstances were egregious, especially in view of the special needs of the parties’ daughter, and the trust fund, including the provision restricting withdrawals without court approval, was the best way to assure petitioner that the support payments would not be misused and that the childrens’ interests would be protected.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 06-D-11421; the Hon. Lisa Murphy, Judge, presiding.

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., of Chicago (James W. Fessler and J. Allen Wall, of counsel), for appellant.

Joan S. Colen, of Chicago, for appellee.

Justices Hall and Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

LAMPKIN, PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 In 2009, respondent Adriana Garcia and petitioner Ciprian Popa received a divorce judgment, which provided, inter alia, that Popa pay Garcia, the custodial parent of their two minor children, monthly child support. In 2012, Garcia took the children to Uruguay, and Popa filed a motion to abate child support. The trial court denied Popa's motion to abate child support but ordered him to open a trust account for the benefit of the minor children, name himself as trustee, and pay all his child support into the trust account. The order also provided that neither Garcia nor Popa should make any withdrawals from that trust account without a court order authorizing such withdrawal.

¶ 2 In this discretionary interlocutory appeal concerning the care of minors, Garcia appeals the circuit court's order establishing the trust account. She argues that (1) Popa did not move the trial court to grant an appropriate order when he moved to abate child support under section 509 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Act) (750 ILCS 5/509 (West 2012)); and (2) the trial court's order establishing the trust account is improper because it constitutes an order suspending child support payments despite clear, legal precedent that child support payments cannot be linked to a custodial parent's violation of visitation terms.

¶ 3 We affirm the judgment of the circuit court. We hold that the circuit court did not exceed its authority and did not abuse its discretion by establishing a trust for the benefit of the minor children of a dissolved marriage to enforce Popa's child support obligation. The evidence indicated that the establishment of the trust was necessary to protect and promote the best interests of the children and Popa was unwilling to make support payments after Garcia removed the children from the country over six months ago in violation of the parties' custody order.

¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 5 Popa and Garcia were married in 2002 and in October 2005 had twins–a daughter and a son. Popa and Garcia were divorced by a judgment entered in October 2009. Among other things, that judgment required Popa to pay child support to Garcia in the amount of $2, 800 per month. That amount was based on their daughter's special needs and the fact that Garcia was unemployed in order to care for their daughter.

¶ 6 On June 13, 2012, Popa filed a pro se petition to modify child support, alleging that he lost his work contract on June 1, 2012, and suffered a considerable decrease in income.

ΒΆ 7 On or about August 10, 2012, Garcia took the children to Uruguay and remained there with them until about September 5, 2012, when she and the children returned to Chicago. About October 16, 2012, Garcia took the ...


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