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In re Marriage of Gulla

888 N.E.2d 585 (2008)

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In re Marriage of Gulla

Illinois Appellate Court

888 N.E.2d 585 (2008)

Facts

Stephen Gulla was ordered to pay Suzanne Gulla (plaintiff) $3,000 per month toward a $123,140.63 child-support arrearage. The trial court deferred the order in 2005 because Stephen was unemployed. In 2006, Stephen became employed by Knobias, Inc. (defendant) in Mississippi, and the trial court in Illinois ordered Stephen to resume the monthly payments. On March 28, 2006, the court served Knobias with a notice to withhold $3,000 per month from Stephen’s pay. The notice also directed Knobias to contact Suzanne’s attorney, Joseph Poell, with any questions and stated that if the amount to be withheld exceeded that allowed under the law of Knobias’s state, Knobias should withhold the maximum amount allowed. The day after Knobias was served with the notice, Stephen’s attorney, Martin Waitzman, told Knobias that he was moving to vacate the order and that Suzanne’s attorney did not intend to contest the motion. A week later, Waitzman advised Knobias that the parties had resolved the issue and that Stephen would be making payments by another method. However, on October 16, 2006, the trial court granted Suzanne leave to file a petition for a rule to show cause against Knobias for failing to comply with the withholding order. Knobias withheld half of Stephen’s income in November and December, totaling $2,805.20. Suzanne filed her petition for a rule to show cause on November 27, 2006, alleging that Knobias’s failure to comply was an intentional, willful, and contumacious violation of the withholding order. The trial court entered judgment against Knobias and assessed a penalty of $100 per day because Knobias had not withheld any income until November 3, 2006. Knobias filed a motion to reconsider, arguing that the original order was void because the amount ordered exceeded Stephen’s net income, and both federal and Mississippi law prohibited withholding more than half of an employee’s net income. Knobias also claimed it had relied on Waitzman’s representation that the order would be vacated. The trial court denied the motion to reconsider, and Knobias appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Johnson, J.)

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