The divorcing parties had four children. Support was to be reduced ¼ as each child was emancipated. Later, an order was entered for past due to child support. The children were still not emancipated. The ¼ reduction language was left out.

The children were all emancipated years later. Dad said he now owed about $40,000 in back child support.

Mom went back to court to determine the interest that was due on dad’s back support. She had a chance to argue that different rules should apply. The new number was $80,000.

Dad requested that the court reduce the amount of current support he was required to pay by ¼ as each child emancipated. He asked that the reduced amount be applied to his back support. Dad took it for granted that the language in the first order still applied to this reduction plan. Dad never filed a Petition to Terminate a portion of his child support as each child emancipated. He should have done this. He would have gotten the result that he wanted.

The Court did not agree with dad’s arguments. That would mean that the dad would have been only paying ¼ of the original amount on the youngest child. Dad appealed.

The Appellate Court agreed with the Trial Court. The trial court had said that the reduction provision could not be used. 1) The original order with the reduction provision was modified. The new order did not refer to that provision. (2) if the reduction provision did apply, the amount of support would have been too low. The amount would have been below the guidelines. There was no good reason for it to be below the guideline amount of support. (3) the use of the reduction provision was against public policy. It permitted modification of the support obligation without the court being involved.

IRMO Rice, 2011 IL App (1st) 103753.

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