The shifting realities of life can sometimes gum up the works of even the most amicable of divorces. This is particularly true when it comes to the delicate issues of spousal and child support that are often part of temporary judgments issued by Illinois courts in the early goings of a divorce proceeding.
The law includes provisions that allow parties in a divorce to seek modifications based on any number of unanticipated situations. Financial turmoil triggered by any number of events, including unemployment due to layoffs, may be grounds for a parent to seek reduction or elimination of child support payments. Sometimes, legislatures change the laws leaving the court the challenge of having to alter decisions.
Such appears to be the case out of New York. A judge in Nassau County recently did a major turnabout in one case, significantly reducing the amount of temporary alimony and support for three children that the ex-husband must pay.
The judge’s original order, issued in March 2011, required the ex-husband to pay more than $17,000 a month. The change reduced that to about $7,000. There were a number of elements that seemed to prompt the scale-back on March 12 of this year. One was that the original order apparently failed to acknowledge that the husband was only making $12,000 a month at the time. Another was that a few months later, the man lost his job.
Legal experts say the real problem is that the case was one of the earliest to fall under new no-fault divorce provisions in New York. They require judges to set temporary alimony and child support based on a strict formula. The previous system had allowed more judicial discretion.
Last month, both sides in the case were told that the court had made a mistake due to its being unfamiliar with the 2010 law change. An independent Law Review Commission reviewing the law says it found that the provisions have resulted in general confusion among judges and lawyers and some unfair decisions. It’s expected to offer recommendations later this month on what to do to fix the issues.
Meanwhile, the ex-husband’s team is hailing the action. The ex-wife’s team is vowing to appeal, saying that while some aspects of the new order are fine, there are other parts that they feel are unfair.