The Lawletter Vol. 48 No. 1
Brett Turner, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group, Inc.
Mother and Father married in 1996 and had two children. Mother filed for divorce in 2019, and the divorce was granted in July of 2021. Father was ordered to pay child support.
In October 2021, three months after the divorce, Father filed to reduce child support, alleging that he had been terminated from his job. He then failed to make his October and November child support payments and was also not in compliance with the property division terms of the decree.
Father was in the process of selling a piece of real estate, the Carpentersville property, awarded him in the decree. In mid-November, Mother moved the court to order the proceeds from that sale be placed in escrow, with the proceeds used to satisfy Father's child support and other obligations under the decree. The trial court granted the motion to the extent of holding the sale proceeds in escrow, and Father appealed.
Father argued that the escrow order was an impermissible prejudgment attachment of funds in which Mother had no interest. The appellate court rejected the premise that the trial court issued a prejudgment attachment at all. "Instead, the trial court was exercising its equitable power to protect the two minor children and their right to support." In re Patel, 2022 IL App (1st) 211650, ¶ 23. "Hence, the trial court may order an injunction of proceeds to prevent the dissipation of assets that may be used to satisfy court-ordered child support and maintenance." Id. Father also claimed that Mother did not need money because ordinary legal remedies were sufficient to protect her. But Father admitted that he had no income. Therefore, Mother's ordinary legal remedies were not sufficient. Patel is another case showing that recipients of child support are a particularly favored set of creditors, and they are sometimes allowed to take measures beyond those permitted to ordinary judgment creditors.