As attorneys, we always encourage our clients to tell the truth and fully disclose their income. Often times, however, our clients are not forthcoming with us. An Illinois Appellate Decision that just came down is a good reminder as to why the parties should fully disclose their income during their divorce proceedings.
In In re Marriage of Rocha, 2015 IL App (3) 140470, the Judge set child support at $150 per week. The parties engaged in further litigation regarding child support after the Husband lost his job. Wife found out 15 years later that the Husband had earned more income at the time that the initial child support order was entered. The Wife then brought a 2-1401 Petition to Vacate the prior Orders.
The Judge found that the Husband had consciously withheld the information from the court and the parties, and had thus engaged in deliberate fraud in an attempt to have a lower child support obligation. The Husband had not only lied in the initial setting of support, but had also lied about his income when he lost his job and was receiving unemployment. The Wife found out about the lie in unemployment benefits first and the Judge vacated that order based on the new information. The Husband had also fallen behind on several child support payments and was constantly held in contempt and ordered to purge himself of the past-due amounts. In the middle of that litigation, the Wife decided to depose the Husband, and it was there that she found out that the Husband had lied about the initial support order.
The trial judge vacated the initial Order and set a retroactive support amount of $32,419.47. The court also found that the Husband owed $17,460.77 in interest on the arrearage, which constituted 9% interest. Due to the highly contested nature of the case and a history of lying to the Court by the Husband, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s decision on both the finding of fraud and the interest rate amount.
It is important to note that the Wife here had done her “due diligence” in bringing her 2-1401 Petition to Vacate once she found out about the fraud. It probably helped that the parties were in active litigation when the fraud was discovered. In the majority of the cases, however, divorced couples do not wish to go back to Court or do not have the money to do so. Waiting too long to bring a 2-1401 Petition to Vacate after you discover that your ex lied about his income may preclude any relief in your case. If you suspect that your ex lied about his or income in your divorce case, you need to speak with an attorney to ensure that the appropriate action is taken in a timely manner.