San Diego Family Law Decisions
Discretion of Court Modification of child support payments rests within the sound discretion of the trial court. Dissolution Judgment Where respondent husband did not object to the terms of the dissolution judgment imposing support obligations solely on him, and where he never appealed the dissolution judgment, the trial court properly ordered that the non-custodial wife was not required to pay child support. Trial court erred in striking husband's petition to modify dissolution judgment granting child support that was filed after notice of appeal and cross appeal.
Effect of Agreement or Consent Decree The court has power to modify a decree or order as to child support and educational payments and there are no exceptions in regard to prior agreements or "consent decrees;" the trial court is not deprived of the power to modify a consent decree. Emancipation Section 510(a) of the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/510(a), imposes conditions for modifying an order of support and, on its face, makes no exception for extending the period during which the parent must pay support; there was no change in circumstances within the meaning of 750 ILCS 5/510(a)(1) in a child's eighteenth birthday coming before his graduation from high school where the parties must have know, from the child's birth date, that he would reach the age of majority before graduating from high school. Minor child was not emancipated prior to her reaching age 18 where she earned approximately $41 per week from her part-time job, she did not seek to be financially independent and she had not abandoned her mother's home despite the fact that she quit school against her father's wishes. The modification of a divorce decree was not arbitrary or capricious where the reduction of child support payments was justified by the substantial change in circumstances consisting of the fact that two of the plaintiff's children had reached majority and ceased to be under plaintiff's care and custody.
Where by stipulation at the time of divorce, a former husband agreed to pay child support only during the minority of his children, appellant's legal obligation to support his daughter ceased on her eighteenth birthday. Equitable Estoppel The doctrine of equitable estoppel is an exception to the otherwise inflexible rule that alimony and child support payments become vested when and as they accrue. Estate Liability This section cannot be construed as providing that the support obligation is to be considered a priority claim against an estate. A parent's estate is liable for that parent's support obligation to the extent just and appropriate in the circumstances, and the court may determine at the time of the dissolution of the marriage the amount of support for which a deceased parent's estate will be held liable.
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