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In Re Marriage of Ligas



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Willard J. Lassers, Judge, presiding.


Respondent, Frank Ligas, and petitioner, Janina Ligas, were granted a dissolution of their marriage by the circuit court of Cook County. The court divided the material property between the parties and awarded Janina Ligas custody of the children with reasonable visitation by respondent. The court also awarded petitioner attorney fees. Respondent appeals from that judgment.

The issues raised for review are (1) whether the trial court erred in its valuation, apportionment and disposition of marital property; (2) whether the court erred in its determination of respondent's net income and erroneously attributed to him $27,000 in a savings account held jointly with his mother; and (3) whether the trial court erred in awarding attorney fees to petitioner.

We affirm.

The parties were married on November 23, 1967, in Poland. There were two children born of the marriage: a boy and girl, born August 18, 1971, and May 17, 1969, respectively. Respondent came to the United States with petitioner in January 1968.

Both parties worked throughout the marriage. From 1972 until 1980, respondent worked as a machinist earning approximately $280 per week after taxes. Petitioner worked in various factory jobs earning approximately $6,000 per year. In 1972, the parties purchased land in Marengo, Illinois, for $4,500, and in 1973, they purchased a two-flat apartment building located at 4372 North Neva in Norridge, Illinois, for $80,000.

There was conflicting testimony but it appears that the down payment on the apartment building was either $40,000 or $41,500. Either $22,000 or $28,000 of the down payment was from the joint savings of the parties and the remainder was borrowed from relatives. Respondent testified that he still owes approximately $10,000 of the debt to his relatives, but that petitioner's relatives have been repaid.

In 1977, respondent used joint funds to purchase a tavern business called the Gospoda. The business was incorporated and the stock is owned equally by petitioner and respondent. Between May 1977 and March 1980, respondent worked as a full-time machinist while also operating the tavern. There was testimony that petitioner worked in the tavern occasionally for about one year. In 1980, respondent quit his job as a machinist in order to work in the tavern full time.

The tavern's annual gross receipts were approximately $60,000 to $70,000 by respondent's testimony. There is no corporate checking account. Respondent writes down the daily totals in a book which he gives to his bookkeeper. Respondent has no employees at the tavern, but occasionally friends or relatives assist him. Respondent rents the entire building in which the tavern is located for $648 per month. He and his parents live above the tavern and he subleases the third floor for approximately $100 per month.

Susan Docal, an accountant, testified for petitioner that in her opinion the tavern business is worth $30,000 to $35,000. Alvin Baresch, respondent's accountant, testified that the tavern is worth $15,000. The gross receipts for the year 1978 were approximately $66,000, and for 1979 and 1980 they were $59,000 each year.

There was no expert appraisal of the apartment building owned by the parties. Respondent contended the building was worth $160,000 to $170,000, while petitioner assessed the value at $100,000 to $125,000. Petitioner and the two children live in the apartment building. The second floor is rented for $280 per month and the basement is rented for $175 per month. The monthly mortgage payment for the building is $471 including taxes.

There was voluminous testimony regarding various bank accounts held by petitioner and respondent during their marriage. Respondent and his mother testified that they also have had joint savings accounts over the years. The mother testified that she earns $350 net every two weeks and almost all of it is deposited into the savings accounts held jointly with respondent. She further testified that respondent pays the rent and gives her money for the upkeep of the home.

After hearing all the testimony, the findings made by the trial court in pertinent part are: (1) the value of the lot in Marengo was $24,000; (2) the value of the tavern was $35,000 and its net profits for 1980 were $34,612; (3) the value of the apartment building was approximately $110,000 and its current mortgage debt was $26,260; (4) respondent is the owner of all the money in two savings accounts held jointly with his mother, amounting to $27,000; and (5) respondent's net income was $35,000.

The court ordered respondent to pay $135 per week child support. Respondent was awarded the tavern business, the lot in Marengo, Illinois, as well as the $27,000 held in the joint savings accounts with his mother. Petitioner was awarded the apartment building and all the furniture as well as all bank accounts in her name. Respondent remained responsible for repaying the $10,000 owed to his relatives for the down ...

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