Jesse Jackson Jr. won his fight to have his monthly child support payment reduced by $1,200 — a victory that his estranged wife’s lawyer said “shocked” Sandi Jackson and demonstrated the former congressman’s “unwillingness to make sure his kids are having what they need.”
“They are not the priority that they should be,” said Chandra Walker Holloway, Sandi Jackson’s attorney. “Mr. Jackson is concerned about himself, and he very well knows she needs these funds to ensure the kids can stay in the only home they’ve ever known.”
In a written statement, the congressman’s lawyer fired back that the reality is “far different than the purple prose” Sandi Jackson’s lawyer “now offers in a truncated, misleading, frenzied & highly caricatured form.”
“Former Congressman Jackson has always and will always support, in every way, his two precious children — whether a court orders that or not,” said Brendan Hammer, Jesse Jackson’s Chicago lawyer. “The Jackson family doesn’t cut and run on its children or its grandchildren.”
The latest chapter in the increasingly contentious dual-city divorce played out after a judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Thursday in Jesse Jackson Jr.’s favor that his temporary child support payments should be reduced.
The former congressman’s lawyers had argued that the $1,529 monthly payment a D.C. judge ordered him to begin paying last month should be cut to $329 to reflect Social Security benefits the children are receiving.
On Thursday, Judge Robert Okun ruled in Jesse Jackson Jr.’s favor, writing that the court will suspend his duty to pay child support for April through July, and he’ll have to pay $213 in August, because of a payment he already sent for the month of March. He’ll then have to pay $329 a month until a further court order.
Hammer has noted the former South Side congressman is paying $1,100 a month for private tuition costs in Washington, and the children are each receiving monthly Social Security “derivative benefits.” Adding $1,529 to that amount would total $3,851 a month.
Jesse Jackson Jr. receives more than $138,000 a year in disability checks because he has bipolar disorder and depression. And the children receive about $14,400 a year of that amount.
The child support payment of $1,529 was ordered by a judge in Washington on Feb. 7.
Sandi Jackson, a former Chicago alderman, is “very disappointed” about the ruling and, Holloway said she will be filing a motion to reconsider.
“She’s not employed,” Holloway said of her client.
Holloway said the court has “miscalculated” the payments, arguing the $329 payments “when Ms. Jackson has no income is in no way going to support those children.”
“She’s living in the marital home in D.C.,” Holloway said. “There’s a mortgage on that. And the kids have to eat.”
Holloway said the former 7th Ward alderman is remaining private about the divorce proceedings but is focused on taking care of her children and “getting re-established.”
At his last Chicago hearing, Jesse Jackson Jr. told reporters he’s not a deadbeat and felt under siege by his estranged wife’s attorneys in Washington and the media in Chicago.
“In the Washington case … my wife is asking for everything,” he said last month. “In the Chicago case, and in the Chicago media, I don’t even deserve what I got. … Again, attacked from all angles.”
The couple is still fighting over where the divorce case should be heard. Sandi Jackson is hoping for the case to be resolved in D.C. — where she’s living with their two children, ages 13 and 16. Jesse Jackson Jr., however, is fighting to keep the case in Chicago where his attorneys say “acts” were committed that led to the divorce.
Hammer said on Thursday they are pleased with the ruling and said they are “confident” that the jurisdictional matters will be resolved soon and that it will be heard in Illinois, not D.C.
“We trust that glib assertions, fast takes and immediate responses will dim in impact as all of the hard truths, non-alternative ‘facts’ and true history of this case and Jesse’s contributions are all developed in full,” Hammer said. “And we have faith this will occur here in Chicago — the space and place where Ms. Stevens Jackson, a presently employable and able bodied person, took her marriage vows; purchased, enjoyed and used a home with her husband; ran for office; took an oath of office; and served in office.
“If Sandi Jackson doesn’t have minimum contacts with Illinois — then Harry Caray was a color commentator for the Yankees. It simply doesn’t make sense.”
The D.C. judge on Thursday also ruled to allow Sandi Jackson to present further evidence on why she should be receiving alimony and attorney fees. The court had previously denied that request, but Okon wrote in a ruling that the court “erred in denying her request for alimony and attorney’s fees on the grounds that Plaintiff had not satisfied the residency requirement of D.C. Code.”
The judge wrote that Sandi Jackson did not produce proof of her D.C. residency — including her 2013 resignation letter from the Chicago City Council and her 2016 D.C. driver’s license information — until after a Feb. 2. status hearing. She’ll now be able to present further evidence about her residency in order to decide whether she should be awarded alimony and attorney fees.
In the couple’s Chicago case, a Cook County judge last month ruled that former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and two other former police officers don’t have to respond to subpoenas issued by Jesse Jackson Jr.’s attorneys in Chicago. Lawyers for the targets of the subpoenas say their clients have nothing to do with the case.
Cook County Judge Carole Bellows said she first wants to resolve the issue of whether the case should be heard in Chicago or Washington, D.C.
A next court hearing is scheduled for March 21 in the D.C. hearing and April 3 for the Chicago case.
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.