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In Re Marriage of Borg

OPINION FILED APRIL 20, 1981.

IN RE MARRIAGE OF HELEN BORG, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, AND PHILIP BORG, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.


APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. REUBEN LIFFSHIN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MCGLOON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied June 15, 1981.

This appeal arises out of the February 9, 1978, judgment of dissolution of the marriage of Helen and Philip Borg. Petitioner Helen Borg appeals pro se and alleges that the judgment of dissolution was erroneous and raises numerous other objections, to both the substantive rulings and procedures utilized in the trial court.

We affirm.

On October 10, 1972, Helen Borg (petitioner) filed a complaint for divorce from her husband Philip Borg (respondent) on the ground that he was guilty of mental cruelty. Respondent filed a countercomplaint for divorce, alleging that petitioner was guilty of mental cruelty. On December 13, 1972, petitioner filed an amended complaint changing her cause of action to separate maintenance. Respondent did not withdraw his countercomplaint. The trial court awarded petitioner temporary alimony in the amount of $1,850 per month.

After numerous continuances and other delays, the case was assigned to a judge of the circuit court for trial on February 2, 1978. Because she believed that all Cook County judges were prejudiced against her, petitioner petitioned the Illinois Supreme Court for the appointment of a judge from outside Cook County.

On February 2, 1978, both parties and their attorneys appeared before the trial judge. Petitioner's attorney requested a continuance pending the resolution of the petition to the supreme court. The request for a continuance was denied and the trial judge proceeded to conduct a hearing on a petition by respondent, to reduce temporary maintenance. Petitioner and her attorney refused to participate in the hearing.

At the hearing, respondent testified that when the order requiring him to pay $1,850 per month alimony originally was entered in January 1973, he had been earning over $100,000 per year. His gross income for 1977 had decreased to $30,000. The trial court entered an order reducing the award of temporary maintenance to $600 per month.

On February 9, 1978, the trial court entered a judgment of dissolution of marriage. The court found petitioner guilty of extreme and repeated mental cruelty toward respondent. The trial judge scheduled a hearing on the issues of property and maintenance for March 9, 1978. On February 23, 1978, petitioner filed a motion for a continuance, claiming that more discovery was needed. Respondent objected to the proposed continuance and petitioner's attorney offered to waive temporary maintenance of $600 per month between March 9 and the date of trial. The court granted the continuance and approved the abatement.

It was not until September 11, 1978, that petitioner moved to reinstate the payment of temporary maintenance in the amount of $1,850. The trial judge ordered respondent to resume maintenance payments of $600 per month until a supplemental judgment was entered. On November 9, 1978, after the entry of the supplemental judgment, petitioner filed a rule to show cause in which she alleged that respondent was in arrears in the amount of $4,050 for monies he should have paid her between February 1 and November 1, 1978. The court ruled that there was no arrearage.

On appeal, petitioner argues that (1) the trial court erred in conducting a hearing while her motion for the appointment of an out-of-county judge was pending in the Illinois Supreme Court; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to continue the trial to enable her to file a petition for change of venue; (3) the trial court's judgment for dissolution of marriage is void because respondent failed to file a countercomplaint to petitioner's amended petition for separate maintenance; (4) the trial court's finding that she was guilty of extreme and repeated mental cruelty is not supported by the evidence; (5) the trial court's distribution of the marital property was grossly inadequate; (6) the trial court erred in reducing temporary maintenance; and (7) the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the abatement of temporary maintenance.

Petitioner first contends that the trial court erred in conducting a hearing while her motion for the appointment of an out-of-county judge was pending in the Illinois Supreme Court.

On February 2, 1978, petitioner and respondent and their respective attorneys appeared before the trial court. Petitioner's attorney informed the court that because his client felt that all Cook County judges were prejudiced against her, she had filed a petition for the appointment of an out-of-county judge pursuant to article VI, paragraph 16 of the Illinois Constitution. Petitioner's attorney further stated that he and his client would not participate in the proceedings until such petition was acted upon by the supreme court. The trial judge advised petitioner and her attorney that he intended to proceed with the hearing on the grounds for dissolution regardless of whether they participated. Petitioner and her attorney promptly left the courtroom.

Shortly thereafter, the two reentered the courtroom and requested that the judge continue the matter so that petitioner's attorney could prepare a motion for change of venue. The ...


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