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Sidwell v. Sidwell

OPINION FILED AUGUST 27, 1984.

DORIS SIDWELL, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ROY SIDWELL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cumberland County; the Hon. Paul C. Komada, Judge, presiding. PRESIDING JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

"There are some things that are merely a concession to the shortness of life!"

— Justice Holmes

There simply must be an end to all litigation — and we have reached it in this acrimonious saga!

This vindictive divorce has been on the books for over 20 years — since February 4, 1964 — and has generated five reviewing court decisions until now.

This is the sixth!

In all of this time and in all of these judicial machinations, 11 appellate court justices have been involved — 8 regular and 3 temporarily assigned.

The Sidwell odyssey has consumed untold months of legal and judicial exertion, two decades of bitterness and recrimination, and — in the process — nearly dissipated the marital assets. It is reminiscent of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, as chronicled in Dickens' "Bleak House."

Let us briefly review this tiresome tale.

I

On February 4, 1964, Doris Sidwell filed a complaint for divorce and injunction in Cumberland County to which Roy Sidwell filed a counterclaim for divorce. A related suit for separate maintenance was also filed by Doris in Clark County. When the Cumberland County circuit court denied Doris leave to amend her complaint and denied a divorce to either party, and the trial court in Clark County dismissed Doris' suit for separate maintenance, she appealed and Roy cross-appealed. Sidwell v. Sidwell (1966), 75 Ill. App.2d 133, 220 N.E.2d 479 (Sidwell I).

In Sidwell I, this court reversed and remanded the Cumberland County proceeding because the trial court erred in considering incompetent evidence on the question of whether to grant a divorce to Doris. Doris was also permitted to amend her complaint to add an additional count for separate maintenance — which rendered the dismissal of the Clark County case moot. Finally, the court found no merit to Roy's cross-appeal.

II

The multivarious events occurring over the course of three years following remand precipitated the second appeal by Doris. In Sidwell v. Sidwell (1971), 132 Ill. App.2d 1055, 271 N.E.2d 115 (Sidwell II), Roy was permitted to reopen his case to present further evidence, after which Doris was again denied a divorce and her complaint was dismissed for want of equity. Instead of appealing, however, Doris engaged in a protracted set of post-judgment motions which variously sought permission of the court to reopen her case, to file an amended complaint, and to restrain Roy from proceeding on a separate divorce petition filed by him in another State. In these efforts Doris was largely unsuccessful, as the trial court continually denied or failed to rule on her motions for reconsideration and injunction.

After a substantial period of inactivity, Doris sought leave to file an amended petition for the purpose of adjudicating property rights, alimony, and attorney fees, because Roy had secured an ex parte divorce in Arkansas. The trial court denied leave to file her petition, prompting Doris to appeal. In Sidwell II, this court concluded that the trial court erred in denying Doris her divorce but that she failed to perfect this issue by not filing a timely notice of appeal. The case was nevertheless ...


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