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Staub v. Staub

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 28, 1978.

MARY ELLEN STAUB, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

ELMER N. STAUB, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. DAVID W. COSTELLO, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE JONES DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Mary Ellen Staub, appeals from the judgment entered in her divorce action by the circuit court of St. Clair County, alleging that the trial court erred in failing to award her any interest in a certain trust established by her husband, Elmer N. Staub. Mr. Staub pursues a cross-appeal asserting that the court improperly awarded Mrs. Staub both periodic alimony and alimony in gross.

On July 14, 1976, Mrs. Staub commenced a suit for divorce in St. Clair County. She subsequently filed an amended complaint with two counts. In count II of the complaint, she sought a declaration that the "Elmer Staub Trust" acted as a fraud upon her rights, and an award of a portion of the assets comprising its res.

At trial it was established that the instant trust agreement was executed by Mr. Staub on June 19, 1975. According to Amil Haudrich, vice-president and trust officer of the Belleville National Savings Bank, the agreement was substantially the same as any other irrevocable trust. Under its terms the trustee bank is directed to pay to Mr. Staub during his lifetime all of the net income of the trust and such part of the principal as the trustee determines to be required or desirable for his support or welfare. Mrs. Staub would derive a benefit from the trust only if the trust's assets were not exhausted in settling Elmer's estate and she were to survive him, be his wife and be living with him at the time of his death.

The assets placed in the trust were approximately $24,000 in cash and bank stock, an undivided half interest in a farm, 1007 shares of Sears, Roebuck & Co. stock, and $19,900.13 cash. The first two items were bequeathed to Elmer by his parents, and the last two were the proceeds of an employee profit-sharing plan which Elmer received upon the termination of his employment with Sears. At the time of trial the value of these assets, excluding the land, was $104,000.

In the divorce decree entered on July 15, 1977, the circuit court found that the "Elmer Staub Trust" was valid and that it would not be disturbed. In part, the decree also awarded Mrs. Staub periodic alimony in the amount of $400 per month and sole title to the jointly owned marital residence.

Mr. and Mrs. Staub each filed a post-trial motion. Mrs. Staub's motion was filed October 20, 1977; it requested the court to set aside the part of the decree which pertained to the trust and to enter an order awarding a portion of the trust to her. Both motions were denied on November 1, 1977.

Our first task in this appeal is to determine what statute governs the merits of this appeal, the Divorce Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 40, par. 1 et seq.) or the new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, par. 101 et seq.). Mrs. Staub contends that the new act governs since her post-trial motion was filed subsequent to its October 1, 1977, effective date. We cannot agree.

Section 801 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, par. 801) provides a framework for determining whether it or the former act applies to a marital case.

• 1 Although both parties present arguments based upon section 801(d) of the new Act, that section is not applicable here since no appeal was pending prior to October 1, 1977. (See Kujawinski v. Kujawinski (1978), 71 Ill.2d 563, 376 N.E.2d 1382; Sommer v. Borovic (1977), 69 Ill.2d 220, 370 N.E.2d 1028 (supplemental opinion on denial of rehearing); Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, par. 801(d).) Similarly, sections 801(a) and (c) are not applicable since we are not dealing with an action commenced on or after October 1, 1977, or a modification proceeding commenced after such date. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, pars. 801(a) and (c).

The section relevant to this cause is section 801(b) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, par. 801(b)). It provides in part as follows:

"This Act applies to all pending actions and proceedings commenced prior to its effective date [October 1, 1977] with respect to issues on which a judgment has not been entered."

Under this provision, the relevant question is whether a judgment on the particular issue was entered prior to October 1, 1977. If it was, the Divorce Act, not the new act, supplies the law applicable to the case.

• 2 The precise question presented here is whether for purposes of section 801(b) the judgment on the issues of this cause was entered on July 15, 1977, when the written judgment order was filed or on November 1, 1977, when the post-trial motions were denied. We find that the salient event is the entry of the written judgment order and that this appeal must consequently be decided on the basis of our former divorce act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 40, par. 1 et seq.).

We believe our conclusion is consistent with what little case-law is available on section 801(b) and that it ...


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