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Sidwell v. Sidwell

OPINION FILED MARCH 3, 1978.

DORIS SIDWELL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

ROY SIDWELL, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cumberland County; the Hon. WILLIAM J. SUNDERMAN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CRAVEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied April 4, 1978.

In 1975, upon the third appeal of this continuing, bitter dispute, we expressed the hope that that appeal would terminate this litigation. We noted:

"In view of the protracted litigation and bitterness of the parties towards each other we will consider the other issues raised, in hope that no more appeals will be necessary." Sidwell v. Sidwell (1975), 28 Ill. App.3d 580, 584, 328 N.E.2d 595, 599.

The opening paragraphs of the 1975 opinion give a concise history of this seemingly endless litigation.

"In 1964, the parties sought a divorce from each other. They have been in court almost continuously since then. This is the third appeal. A brief review of the history of this litigation will be useful to place the parties' contentions in perspective.

The wife filed a complaint for divorce in 1964. The husband filed a counterclaim. The trial court denied a divorce to either. The wife appealed and this court reversed and remanded. Sidwell v. Sidwell, 75 Ill. App.2d 133, 220 N.E.2d 479.

After remandment, the trial court again denied the wife a divorce. However, the husband obtained a divorce in Arkansas in 1967. In 1968, Mrs. Sidwell filed suit seeking, among other requests, to settle property disputes, rights to alimony and attorneys fees. She had also requested such relief in the first complaint in 1964. Mrs. Sidwell's complant was dismissed, upon Mr. Sidwell's motion. She appealed. In Sidwell v. Sidwell, 132 Ill. App.2d 1055, 271 N.E.2d 115, this court held that she was entitled to have adjudicated her rights arising out of the dissolution of the marriage.

Other issues were involved in those appeals but are not pertinent to the resolution of this case.

Subsequent to our reversal and remandment on the second appeal, Mrs. Sidwell filed her amended complaint. In that complaint she alleged special equities in defendant's property and requested conveyance under section 17 of the divorce act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 40, § 18). She also requested alimony under section 18 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 40, § 19) and attorneys fees under section 15 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 40, § 16).

Defendant answered and included in his answer was a demand for jury trial. Plaintiff, Mrs. Sidwell, moved for summary judgment. Defendant did not reply to this. The court granted summary judgment on the special equities claim. He ordered defendant to convey to his ex-wife 125 acres of farmland, title to which had been solely in defendant's name. This occurred on July 21, 1972, at which time the court also struck defendant's jury demand. Other questions were reserved.

On March 4, 1974, the court heard evidence in relation to attorneys fees and awarded $20,000 to the wife. The wife at that time waived her alimony claim.

Defendant husband has appealed, raising these issues: (1) Whether the Arkansas court which granted the divorce had jurisdiction over the property claims, thereby excluding Illinois court's jurisdiction; (2) Whether summary judgment on the special equities claim was improper; (3) Whether defendant has a right to jury trial on the issues raised in the complaint; (4) Whether the attorneys fees were improper and excessive; (5) Whether the court's finding of special equities was against the manifest weight of the evidence." 28 Ill. App.3d 580, 581-82, 328 N.E.2d 595, 596-97.

In Sidwell-third, this court reversed and remanded for determination of the special equities and alimony. The case is now back here on its fourth visit. The trial court did hold a hearing upon the issue of special equities, alimony ...


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