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Riordan v. Riordan





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD E. PLUSDRAK, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied May 12, 1977.

Appellant, Angela M. Riordan, appeals from a decree and supplemental decree for divorce entered by the circuit court of Cook County, whereby she was granted a divorce based upon grounds of desertion from appellee, Robert E. Riordan.

Plaintiff filed a suit for separate maintenance, or in the alternative for divorce, on June 2, 1971, alleging desertion on the part of defendant, such desertion commencing on May 5, 1971. Count 1, paragraph 1 of plaintiff's complaint alleged that defendant resided in the city of Chicago, County of Cook and State of Illinois. In his answer, defendant admitted the allegation of count 1, paragraph 1 of plaintiff's complaint. Defendant filed a countercomplaint on August 3, 1972, alleging Cook County residence. Plaintiff filed an answer denying his residence. At trial, defendant testified that he was living in Chicago at the time the suit was filed and he had lived in Chicago from May 1971 until December 1971 when he moved to Lake County. Mrs. Riordan testified that her husband deserted her in May 1971, but he had visited her since then and they had lived together as husband and wife. She further testified that he did not ultimately leave her until March 1972. The question of improper venue was raised in plaintiff's post-trial motion.

In her complaint, plaintiff requested alimony in installments or in gross. Furthermore, at trial, plaintiff's counsel made an argument for alimony in gross, as opposed to straight alimony, due to the facts that Mr. Riordan worked and lived in Brazil and that Mrs. Riordan testified that her husband inadequately supported her during the marriage.

Relating to the determination of alimony and child support, the following facts were elicited: Mrs. Riordan was employed part-time by Royal Welcome and in 1973 earned $2700. Besides her job earnings, she also had dividend income, interest income, and income from farm property in Kansas. Her total yearly earnings were approximately $6900. In addition to yearly income, Mrs. Riordan has substantial assets of her own valued at approximately $84,000 which include various types of shares of corporate stock, bank accounts, a certificate of deposit, and her interest in various parcels of real estate. The plaintiff has had no disabling medical problems since 1969 and the record shows that she has been able to work regularly over the last several years.

Mr. Riordan grosses $32,000 a year from his job and has miscellaneous income of $2000 per year, for a total of $34,000 yearly. He nets approximately $1747 per month from his job. His personal estate was comprised of various parcels of real estate, substantially located in Kansas, corporate stock and a bank account, the total value being somewhere between $208,000 and $218,000. Appraisals were submitted relating to the Kansas real estate holdings. Much of the Kansas property had been inherited by Mr. Riordan.

The parties purchased a home in Lake Forest in 1966 for $49,000. The present mortgage balance is in the vicinity of $35,000. Mr. Riordan testified that the home is presently worth $70,000.

Five children were born to the parties, but at the time of the decision only one minor child, namely, Patrick, resided at home with the plaintiff. Prior to this litigation, a trust was established for the education of the children, known as the Riordan Educational Fund.

In the supplemental decree, the court provided that the defendant shall be responsible for the balance of any payments which may arise in connection with said college or university expenses of Patrick, if the assets of the trust prove to be insufficient. It also provided that any remaining assets in the trust would be divided equally among the children upon completion of their education. Mrs. Riordan was removed as trustee and an independent trustee was appointed.

The basic terms of the decree and supplemental decree relating to alimony and child support provided that appellant be awarded custody of their one minor child, Patrick, alimony in gross of $475 per month for 121 months, the marital home, one-half of the proceeds from the sale of a parcel of real estate located in Indiana, $165 per month for child support, and $500 for the development of Patrick's musical talents. The total amount of alimony in gross awarded was approximately $75,000.

Five attorneys represented plaintiff in the instant case. The court ordered defendant to pay $1500 and $1000, respectively, to the first two attorneys. Plaintiff had paid her third attorney fees amounting to $5000. This attorney requested $18,000 additional attorney's fees. The court held a hearing, the expert witness failed to show the reasonableness of the fee requested due to the striking of an improper hypothetical question, and the court denied the request, stating that "the amount that you have received, this $5000, is ample and adequate."

The major issues presented for review are that venue was improper, the form of the alimony was improper and the amount of the alimony was inadequate, the child support award was inadequate, and the court improperly denied the petition for attorney's fees of plaintiff's third attorney.

Appellant initially contends that the trial court lacked jurisdiction in this matter due to improper venue. She argues that because both parties were residents of Lake County at the time of the trial, the cause should have been transferred. She further argues that the venue requirements in a divorce case are jurisdictional in ...

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