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In Re Marriage of Swanson

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 25, 1981.

IN RE MARRIAGE OF JANE Z. SWANSON, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, AND ROBERT A. SWANSON, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.


APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Warren County; the Hon. U.S. COLLINS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE HEIPLE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This cause involves the end of a marriage. Jane Swanson and Robert Swanson were married just shy of 30 years. As in many dissolution cases, the courts> are asked to resolve the final, legal remnant of that union — the parties' property interests. This one presents those questions.

Jane Swanson, the petitioner, is 65 years old and in good health. Jane and Robert were married July 2, 1949. A college graduate, the petitioner works for the Illinois Medical Society as a secretary. She has held such position for almost 40 years. At times, her job has required her to work in Chicago during the week, from whence she returned to Monmouth on the weekend. During the course of their marriage, Mrs. Swanson did not engage in any tasks connected with the operation of her husband's farm. She did, however, perform domestic duties such as meal preparation, laundry, and cleaning. Presently, she resides with her mother in Monmouth in Illinois. At the time of the hearing, her retirement plans were uncertain.

The respondent, Robert Swanson, is 57 years old, enjoying good health. Presently, he resides in Arkansas with another woman. He is a high school graduate. From 1945 to 1960 he worked a Warren County farm with his father. After working in a paint store, he started his own farm implements business in 1963. In 1969 he became a real estate salesman, and later a broker, his present occupation.

The parties accumulated a sizable estate which is comprised of marital as well as non-marital property. The trial judge, in a meticulous, well-designed order, made the following disposition:

Real Estate: Value Wife Husband

Farm Acreage (197.9 acres) $679,241.00 $166,928.00 $512,313.00 Less: Mortgage (on 185.63 acres) 65,297.00 15,560.36 49,736.99 __________ __________ __________ Total 613,944.00 151,367.64 462,576.01

Residential:

E Street 9,032.59 4,516.30 4,516.29 Kirkwood 9,945.59 4,972.99 4,973.00 3rd Street 15,248.11 7,624.06 7,624.05 __________ __________ __________ Total Real Estate 629,192.11 168,500.99 479,689.35

Stock 55,218.22 27,609.11 27,609.12 Bonds, Notes 36,300.00 18,150.00 18,150.00 Cash 84,185.31 42,092.66 42,092.65 Personal Property 18,000.00 9,000.00 9,000.00 ___________ ___________ ___________ TOTAL $841,873.88 $265,332.76 $576,541.12 =========== =========== ===========

Stocks, bonds, and personal property, valued at $26,394, amounted to Jane Swanson's non-marital property. Robert Swanson's non-marital estate was priced at $340,660.

Six parcels of land make up the farmland distributed between the parties. Because the division of this real property forms the primary disagreement between the parties, a short history of its acquisition is necessary.

In January 1947, Robert and his father, Nels Swanson, bought a 78.69-acre farm (tract I), as joint tenants. The purchase price, $21,800, was made by equal cash payments by both men, and a mortgage to the Federal Land Bank for $9,700. A 1.3-acre piece (tract II) was purchased outright as joint tenants by Nels and Robert in July 1953. 36.94 acres (tract III) were purchased by Robert and his father in December 1954. To finance the purchase money, $3,000 cash was advanced, and a $19,000 mortgage obtained from the Federal Land Bank. Part of the mortgage money was used to pay off the existing debt on tract I. A new mortgage covering tracts I and III was executed. The elder Swanson, as well as Jane and Robert, all signed the note. Title, again in joint tenancy, was in the men's names. In August 1959, father and son, as joint tenants, purchased 8.27 acres (tract IV). A loan for the purchase price was obtained from a bank in Monmouth. Nels Swanson died in 1963. On January 5, 1967, Robert and Jane purchased a 70-acre farm in joint tenancy. To do so they borrowed $73,685 from the Federal Land Bank. A portion of this loan paid off the indebtedness on tract III. Payment of this new loan was secured by mortgages covering tracts I, III, and V. The final property, covering 2.7 acres (tract VI), was purchased by Robert, in his own name, in October 1976.

The trial judge concluded Robert Swanson's non-marital property included all of tract I and undivided one-half interests in tracts II, III, IV, and VI (approximately 104 acres). The remaining land (94 acres) was then ...


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