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In re Marriage of Eastburg

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

October 13, 2016

In re MARRIAGE OF AARON TODD EASTBURG, Petitioner-Appellee, and ALICIA LYNN EASTBURG, n/k/a Alicia Lynn Condreay, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Knox County, Illinois. Circuit No. 06-D-114 Honorable Scott Shipplett, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice O'Brien concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Carter specially concurred, with opinion.

          OPINION

          SCHMIDT, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Aaron Eastburg, petitioner, is obligated to pay child support to his former spouse, respondent, Alicia Eastburg. Originally, the parties stipulated to the amount of Aaron's child support payments. The figure-$511 bimonthly-was calculated at 28% of his net income. The parties also agreed to equally divide the cost of medical expenses not covered by insurance for the minors. Alicia later petitioned to increase Aaron's child support payments due to increases in his income. After the most recent petition, the parties stipulated to an increased payment amount based on Aaron's 2014 net income. Alicia then sought 28% of Aaron's 2014 federal income tax refund and a decrease in her obligation for the minors' medical costs not covered by insurance. The trial court denied Alicia's requests. She appeals both denials. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Aaron and Alicia married in 1998. They have two minor children. The circuit court of Knox County entered a judgment for dissolution of the marriage in December 2006. Shortly thereafter, Aaron and Alicia agreed to a joint parenting order wherein Alicia retained physical custody of the minors, but both had legal custody. The order established Aaron's child support payment at $511 bimonthly. The amount allegedly represented 28% of Aaron's net income. Aaron and Alicia split the cost of uninsured medical expenses evenly.

         ¶ 4 In October 2014, Alicia filed a motion to modify child support. She alleged that Aaron's income had increased, and the trial court's order should be modified to reflect the change. Alicia further argued she was entitled to a reduction in her obligation for the minors' uninsured medical expenses. She averred that covering half of the expenses placed an inordinate burden on her because of the increased disparity in their incomes.

         ¶ 5 The parties proceeded to discovery. Aaron produced his income records, including W-2s and federal income tax returns from 2012, 2013, and 2014. Aaron intentionally withheld taxes more than necessary throughout each year and received federal income tax refunds after his tax obligations were properly calculated. For tax year 2014, Aaron's federal income tax refund was $14, 239.

         ¶ 6 Ultimately, Aaron agreed that his net income had increased. At a hearing in May 2015, the parties stipulated that Aaron's child support payments would be $721 bimonthly, applied retroactively to the date Alicia filed her petition. Alicia's counsel next claimed Alicia was entitled to precisely $3, 986.92-28% of Aaron's 2014 federal income tax refund-and a reduction in her obligation for the minors' uninsured medical expenses.

         ¶ 7 The trial court later issued an opinion letter denying Alicia's request for 28% of Aaron's 2014 federal income tax refund. The trial court noted that the parties had already agreed to an increase in child support payments, and this was not a case where the payor was "gam[ing] the system" because his overwithholding "did not affect the current support computation." The trial court also denied Alicia's request for a decrease in her uninsured medical expense obligation. The trial court reasoned that the parties still had the same employment they had when they originally agreed to share the cost of uninsured medical expenses, and the current disparity in their respective incomes was not so great that equity demanded amending their agreement.

         ¶ 8 At Alicia's insistence, the court issued an order based on its opinion letter. Alicia filed a motion to reconsider which the trial court denied. Alicia appeals.

         ¶ 9 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 10 Alicia argues that under the plain language of section 505(a)(3) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Act) (750 ILCS 5/505(a)(3) (West 2014)), the trial court erred in finding that: (1) she is not entitled to 28% of Aaron's federal income tax refund; and (2) she is ...


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