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In Re Marriage of Bentley

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 11, 1980.

IN RE MARRIAGE OF IRENE BENTLEY, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, AND GEORGE BENTLEY, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.


APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. MONICA D. REYNOLDS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CAMPBELL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 10, 1980.

The petitioner, Irene Bentley, appeals the property distribution that was entered as part of the judgment dissolving her marriage to the respondent, George Bentley. The petitioner contends that the trial court abused its discretion and did not consider the relevant factors pursuant to sections 503(c) and 504(b) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, pars. 503(c), 504(b)), in distributing the marital and non-marital property, and in apportioning the maintenance award. For reasons stated below, we affirm.

The judgment in dissolution of marriage, entered on October 18, 1978, was granted to the petitioner on grounds of mental cruelty. The petitioner and the respondent had been married 27 years and were 51 and 63 years of age respectively when the marriage was dissolved. They had two sons who are now adults. The marital home, located in Prospect Heights, Illinois, was valued from between $64,000 and $76,000. According to the provisions of the property distribution, the marital home would be repaired with the 1977 income tax refund in the amount of $500 and then sold. The court ordered the $8,500 mortgage balance paid from the proceeds of the sale and the remainder distributed 40% to the respondent and 60% to the petitioner.

The respondent was employed as an account supervisor with an advertising agency and his net income from this job was approximately $250 per week. The respondent had been unemployed prior to obtaining his job with the advertising agency, and he had incurred $8,000 in debts during this time to pay the household expenses. Under the terms of the property settlement, the respondent was required to pay the $8,000 debt out of his share of the marital award, and also to pay the petitioner maintenance in the amount of $40 per week for two years.

The petitioner, on the other hand, had been a housewife, though she had worked occasionally during the early years of the marriage. At the time of dissolution the petitioner had obtained part-time employment as a babysitter and earned $20 per day.

The petitioner in the dissolution proceedings contested the award of the house located in Homewood, Illinois to the respondent. This property, valued at $42,000, was purchased by the respondent from Margaret Doorley, whom the respondent claimed raised him. The facts surrounding the purchase of the house are as follows: the petitioner telephoned the respondent who was then in California, and informed the respondent of an attempt by Mrs. Doorley's niece to place Mrs. Doorley in a nursing home. From the record it appeared that Mrs. Doorley and her niece were estranged, and that Mrs. Doorley frequently communicated with the petitioner and the respondent. The respondent subsequently returned to Illinois, and along with the petitioner, met with Mrs. Doorley to discuss the purchase of the house. On October 3, 1975, the respondent purchased the house from Mrs. Doorley for $10.

Mrs. Doorley was an elderly lady, and during the proceedings herein suffered a stroke and was placed in a nursing home by the petitioner and the respondent shortly before the entry of the judgment herein. The respondent was asked during the proceedings that, if necessary, would he sell the house to pay for Mrs. Doorley's nursing home bills. The respondent stated that he intended to sell the house and use the proceeds of the sale to pay for her nursing bills, and that he would take care of Mrs. Doorley for as long as she lived. Mrs. Doorley died February 7, 1979, approximately four months after the entry of the judgment herein, and it appeared from the testimony of respondent that Mrs. Doorley allowed the respondent to purchase the house for such a small consideration in return for the respondent's obligation to provide for her in the event she needed money.

The petitioner also contested the award of a cut glass set valued at $2,000 and which consisted of a bowl, two trays, and a clock. The petitioner stated that Mrs. Doorley gave the set to the parties as a gift and was therefore marital property; whereas, the respondent testified that it was given to them for safekeeping, and thereby non-marital property. The trial court awarded the cut glass set and the house to the respondent as non-marital property.

The remainder of the assets was disposed of in the following manner: the respondent was required to provide the petitioner with medical coverage for one year and to designate the petitioner beneficiary of his Veteran's Administration insurance policy valued at $10,000.

The petitioner contends that the trial court erred in the disposition of the marital assets and non-marital assets and failed to divide said property in "just proportion" according to the standards and factors set forth in the applicable statute. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, par. 503; In re Marriage of Olsher (1979), 78 Ill. App.3d 627, 397 N.E.2d 488.

The petitioner further contends that pursuant to section 503(c)(1) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 40, par. 503(c)(1)) she contributed to the acquisition of the house located in Homewood, Illinois. The petitioner argues that as a result of her telephone call, the respondent returned to Illinois and arranged for the purchase of the house, and further, that she participated in the arrangements for the purchase of the house. The petitioner asserts that based on these efforts the trial court should have awarded her a larger share of the marital property.

In regards to the telephone call the record did not reflect that the respondent's return to Illinois was based on the petitioner's call. After the respondent was informed of the niece's conduct, the respondent indicated that he would take care of it when he returned home.

At a later date, arrangements for the purchase of the house were discussed among the petitioner, respondent, and Mrs. Doorley. In their meetings, the parties discussed the procedure for transferring the house as well as other preliminary matters. From the record it appears that petitioner's participation ...


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