The trial court held numerous hearings on multiple post-judgment issues.  These issues had been pending for several years.  The trial court entered an order denying a finding of contempt against ex-husband for nonpayment of child support expenses.  Ex-wife appealed.

The appellate court reversed.  It held that the ex-wife had met her burden.  She had established that the ex-husband had failed to pay the full amount of the support that he owed.

The ex-wife established through court orders the amounts that the ex-husband was required to pay for child support, daycare expenses, and an arrearage. She also introduced the certified payment history from the State Disbursement Unit (SDU).  It showed that the total amount of payments the ex-husband had made was less than the amount that he should have paid.

The ex-wife’s filings and exhibits established noncompliance.  This constitutes prima facie evidence of contempt.

Therefore, the burden shifted to the ex-husband to show why the noncompliance was not willful. At the hearing, the ex-husband made no argument that he did not have the inability to pay or that the failure to pay was no willful.

Following are some additional interesting findings by the Appellate Court.  The trial court acted within its discretion in declining to consider the income of the ex-husband’s second wife in determining whether there had been a change in circumstance.    There was no indication that the trial court failed to consider the second wife’s income as part of the ex-husband’s financial resources.

The trial court acted within its discretion in declining to consider the ex-husband’s income-tax refunds in determining whether there had been a change in circumstances.   There was no indication that the child support payments were improperly calculated as the tax refund was already included in his net income.

And, the trial court acted within its discretion in denying the ex-wife’s petition seeking to increase the ex-husband’s support obligation.  Ex-wife had not shown that the ex-husband’s income had substantially changed since the most recent modification of child support.

In re Marriage of Elliott, 2019 IL App (4th) 180628.

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