I recently worked on a child support case where the parties were contesting the amount of child support to be paid by the other party to the client. Each party had its own calculations for what they believed the child support amount should be based upon the other party’s income and various business expenses. The main issue before the Court was whether the other party could deduct all of his alleged expenses, or if he could only deduct some of the expenses. If the Court allowed the other party to deduct all of his expenses from his income, then the child support award would be less than what we believed to be guideline support under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. When the Court issued its ruling on the matter, the Court’s child support award was much less than what was previously calculated by both parties to be guideline support. This lead me to believe the Court had made an error in awarding the child support, which raises an interesting question: is there anything a party can do if it appears the Court has made a mistake? The answer is yes. In this case, I filed a Motion to Reconsider the Court’s ruling which alleged the Court made a mistake, explained why it was a mistake, and asked the Court to reconsider its ruling and award child support pursuant to our calculations.
Pursuant to Section 2-1203 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure, a party may file a motion to reconsider within thirty days after an order is entered. However, Section 2-1203 does not allow a party to simply file a Motion to Reconsider the Court’s ruling simply because he does not like the outcome and wants the Court to reexamine the issues. Rather, Illinois case law limits Motions to Reconsider to a few distinct situations. First, a party may bring a Motion to Reconsider within thirty days if he finds newly discovered evidence that existed at the time of the hearing which would help his case. However, if a party was able to discover this evidence prior to the hearing and simply failed to do so, the Court has the discretion to deny the Motion to Reconsider and let the ruling stand. Second, a party may file a Motion to Reconsider within thirty days if there has been a change in the law within that time frame. Finally, a party may bring a Motion to Reconsider if the Court has made an error in applying the law. Therefore, a Motion to Reconsider is not a weapon to be used to change the Court’s mind, but rather, is a tool that can be used in the rare instances where new evidence comes to light, the law changes, or the Court has made a mistake. In the above example, the Court reviewed its notes and determined it had made a mistake in calculating the support. As a result, the Court granted the Motion to Reconsider and awarded child support pursuant to our calculations.