The agreed order required husband to pay $4,000 per month to wife. Of the $4,000 sum, the parties agreed $2,000 would be maintenance and $2,000 would be child support.
Wife filed a petition against husband. She said husband should be in contempt for not making court-ordered support payments. Husband did not appear in court on the set date. The Judge found him in contempt of court. The Judge set a second court date for husband to come to court to remove the contempt against him.
At the second court date, husband told the court that he wanted to delay the contempt charges against him in divorce court. He said that there was an ongoing federal criminal investigation against him regarding the nonpayment of taxes. Husband argued that a stay (delay) was proper because he was unable to defend himself. He said that he would take the fifth and would keep doing so in response to any question that might incriminate him with respect to this federal criminal investigation for nonpayment of taxes.
The trial court Judge asked the parties how much husband was behind in support. It came out that husband did not believe he should be paying maintenance in the first place. Husband said that all payments should be credited toward his payment of child support. That was not an acceptable argument.
The trial court denied husband’s motion to stay the proceedings. The Judge said the potential harm to husband was outweighed by several other factors in favor of denying the stay.
The trial court found husband in contempt. He appealed, arguing that he was held in contempt for asserting a constitutional privilege. The appellate court agreed with the trial court. The appellate court held that the husband had the burden to show cause why he should not be held in contempt. By asserting his fifth-amendment privilege, he did not meet this burden. The trial court held him in contempt for failing to meet his burden, not for asserting his privilege.
In re Marriage of Ray, 2014 IL App (4th) 130326.
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