After child support spat, judge ups Jesse Jackson Jr. payment

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi, arrive at federal court in Washington in 2013 for their sentencing. | Susan Walsh/AP file photo

A judge in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday increased Jesse Jackson Jr.’s child support payments — resolving a dispute that had Sandi Jackson’s attorney accusing the former congressman of not prioritizing his children and his side staunchly denying that claim.

The judge’s order means Jesse Jackson will pay $1,529 a month for his two children as the onetime political power couple continues to fight over whether their divorce case should play out in Chicago, where he wants it to be heard, or the nation’s capital, where she does.

In February, Jesse Jackson’s Washington attorney asked the court to clarify a $1,529 payment ordered by the judge — while also asking for it to be reduced to $329 a month. Last month, the judge ruled in Jesse Jackson’s favor, writing that the court would suspend his duty to pay child support for April through July — and that he’d have to pay $213 in August. He was ordered to pay $329 a month until a further court order.

Sandi Jackson’s attorney last month said the reduction was a sign the children aren’t a priority for Jesse Jackson — with his attorneys shooting back that the Jackson family “doesn’t cut and run on its children or its grandchildren.”

In an about face, Jesse Jackson filed a request to up his payments on March 29 — saying the initial request to reduce the payment from $1,529 to $329 was “sincere and well-founded” but that it “should” go back up. That amount was already doled out for March.

On Wednesday,  Judge Robert Okun issued an order to reinstate the original $1,529 a month child support payment, according to Sandi Jackson’s D.C. attorney Chandra Walker Holloway.

“Mrs. Jackson was confident that she would prevail on this issue since her claim was supported by law,” Walker Holloway said in a statement. “It is unfortunate [the] Defendant ever sought to reduce his child-support obligation to $329 per month. Moreover, any suggesting that Mr. Jackson ‘volunteered’ to pay more in child support is a futile attempt by Mr. Jackson’s Chicago attorneys to spin a loss into a win.”

RELATED: Sun-Times Jackson divorce archive

Jesse Jackson’s Chicago attorney Brendan Hammer last month said his client was voluntarily agreeing to increase the payment. He said the request to up the payments was made to “streamline” litigation in light of there being legal fees for four attorneys in two separate cases being played out in Chicago and Washington.

On Wednesday, Hammer said Jesse Jackson is fully prepared to provide for his children.

“This case never has been — and never will be — about whether the parties’ two children will be supported – they have been, they are and they will be,” Hammer said in a statement, also noting that Sandi Jackson’s spousal support will come into play in the case.

“While Mr. Jackson is wholly prepared to take any and all actions necessary to support his children, he is not prepared to be the sole underwriter of Ms. Jackson’s financial support,” Hammer said.

He called Walker Holloway’s comment “an attempt at deflection” as he waits for Sandi Jackson to answer questions about her ties to Chicago: “Unless she has amnesia, she should be able to answer that kind of question in 21 seconds.”

A Cook County judge last month ordered Sandi Jackson to respond to her husband’s motion citing her Chicago connections as a legal basis to have the case heard here.

Jesse Jackson gets more than $138,000 a year in disability pay because he has bipolar disorder and depression, with about $14,400 a year of that paid directly to his children.

Hammer has noted the former congressman is already paying $1,100 a month for private tuition costs in Washington, and the children are each receiving monthly Social Security “derivative benefits.”

The couple have an April 28 next court date in both cities, with both expected to appear at the D.C. hearing.

Both Jacksons pleaded guilty in August 2013 to various schemes relating to the looting of his congressional campaign fund. The former South Side 7th Ward alderman and the former 2nd Congressional District lawmaker each went to prison for diverting $750,000 from campaign funds for their personal use between 2005 and 2012.

Previously from Chicago News