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In Re Marriage of Shafer



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Carroll County; the Hon. John W. Rapp, Judge, presiding.


Petitioner, Dorothy Mae Shafer, appeals from that portion of a judgment of dissolution of marriage entered March 7, 1983, by the circuit court of Carroll County which provides for the distribution of the marital property of the petitioner and respondent, Ray E. Shafer. On appeal, petitioner raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court's distribution of marital property was inequitable; (2) whether the trial court's valuation of the parties' closely held business was against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (3) whether the trial court erred in not awarding maintenance to the petitioner.

The petitioner filed her petition for dissolution of marriage, and the respondent counterpetitioned for dissolution. A judgment of dissolution was entered on October 15, 1982. Petitioner and respondent were married on February 5, 1969. At the time of the entry of dissolution, the parties were both 40 years old and had three children, ages 16, 12, and eight. Petitioner, at the time of her marriage to respondent, had worked as a munitions handler for an army depot until she was laid off sometime in 1973. For the duration of the marriage, she was primarily responsible for household chores and the care of the couple's children. Respondent, since 1966, had been employed as a police officer with the Savanna police department and, beginning in 1971, he also had worked for a garbage disposal company. After working at the company two years, he was made a partner. However, the partnership was put in petitioner's name in order to avoid any possible conflict of interest situation due to his continued employment with the Savanna police department. In 1979, respondent purchased the business for $35,000. He submitted a bid and was awarded the garbage disposal contract with the city of Savanna, dated February 24, 1981, and due to expire on April 30, 1986. The contract was put in petitioner's name and signed by her.

The record discloses that in the day-to-day operation of the business, respondent drove one of the garbage trucks, repaired and maintained the trucks and hired and fired the personnel. Petitioner did the company's bookkeeping and accounting.

Respondent's net income per month in 1981 from his jobs as a police officer and with the garbage company was $2,035.58. He earned $17,014.44 gross per year from his job as a police officer and drew $500 gross per week from the company. A 1981 Federal joint income tax return showed an adjusted gross income of approximately $39,000.

The focus of the evidence presented at trial centered on the valuation of the garbage disposal business, known as Savanna Disposal Company. Evidence depositions from the parties' experts presented to the court valued the company at $32,784, $38,000, and $120,000.

In a letter of opinion, the trial court awarded petitioner custody of the three children and found the following property of the parties to be marital and awarded to the petitioner: (1) the marital residence valued at $46,200, subject to an outstanding mortgage of $8,300, $5,300 of which is to be paid by respondent; (2) a 1982 Chevrolet Blazer valued at $10,000, subject to a lien of $8,500; (3) household goods and furnishings valued at $3,000; and (4) a 1968 school bus valued at $1,000. The trial court determined petitioner's marital property was valued at $48,700. The trial court awarded respondent a gun collection, valued at $1,000 and the garbage disposal company valued by the trial court at $55,000. The court ordered respondent to pay the 1982 and 1983 real estate taxes ($1,600) as well as $65 per week per child in child support. Respondent's award of marital property was valued at $49,100. In order to equalize the division in marital property, the trial court ordered respondent to pay $400 toward petitioner's attorney fees. The trial court did not award petitioner maintenance stating that petitioner had not requested maintenance. In awarding the business to respondent, the trial judge explained that his findings were based on his conclusion that the value of the business was dependent on respondent's personal services and his contributions to the business. The provisions of the memorandum opinion were incorporated into a written order, and petitioner filed a timely notice of appeal.


Petitioner maintains in this appeal that the marital property was not distributed in just proportions under section 503 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 40, par. 503(c)). Petitioner argues that her award of marital property is insufficient for her financial needs because the marital residence she received is an asset she cannot maintain due to her low earning potential and is non-income producing. The court's award of child support, payment of a portion of the mortgage and payment of real estate taxes for 1982 and 1983 is insufficient to rectify the inequality of the property award according to petitioner.

• 1 The distribution of marital property rests within the sound discretion of the trial court and a reviewing court will not reverse absent an abuse of discretion. (In re Marriage of Sevon (1983), 117 Ill. App.3d 313, 453 N.E.2d 866; In re Marriage of Rothbardt (1981), 99 Ill. App.3d 561, 425 N.E.2d 1146; In re Marriage of McMahon (1980), 82 Ill. App.3d 1126, 403 N.E.2d 730.) An abuse of discretion occurs only where no reasonable man would take the view adopted by the trial court. In re Marriage of Bentivenga (1982), 109 Ill. App.3d 967, 971, 441 N.E.2d 336, 339; In re Marriage of Lee (1979), 78 Ill. App.3d 1123, 1127, 398 N.E.2d 126, 129.

• 2 Under section 503(c) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act a court is directed to divide marital property upon dissolution of the marriage in "just proportions considering all relevant factors." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 40, par. 503(c).) In dividing marital property, the trial court need not make specific findings as to the factors set out in section 503 of the Act where the evidence supports the property division and the record allows a court of review a basis to review the propriety of the division. (In re Marriage of Walsh (1982), 109 Ill. App.3d 171, 176, 440 N.E.2d 310, 313.) Furthermore, the Act does not prescribe an equal division of the marital property. (In re Marriage of Aschwanden (1980), 82 Ill.2d 31, 37; In re Marriage of Sevon (1983), 117 Ill. App.3d 313, 318, 453 N.E.2d 866, 869.) Thus, if the court has considered all the factors enumerated in section 503 of the Act, its discretion will only be reversed where no reasonable person would take the view adopted by the trial court.

• 3 After reviewing the record and the factors found in section 503(c) to be considered in the division of marital property, the apportionment of marital property made by the trial court in this case did not constitute an abuse of discretion. While the trial court did not state the relevant factors it considered in making the division, the record does reflect the value of the parties' resources, the age of the parties, the duration of the marriage, petitioner's homemaking contributions, the disparity of the parties' earning potential subsequent to the dissolution, the custodial award of the children to petitioner, and respondent's more substantial role in the operation of the business. The trial court calculated what he thought would represent an equitable distribution. Each party received 50% of the net assets and was awarded one of the two principal marital assets.

The trial court, after carefully and extensively reviewing the values submitted, awarded the respondent the business because of his greater contribution toward its acquisition and maintenance. While petitioner contributed her labors and earnings from her employment, the court could properly conclude that respondent's contributions were greater and that this justified awarding him the business rather than ...

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