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In Re Marriage of Ingrassia



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. David A. Englund, Judge, presiding.


Petitioner, Therese Ingrassia, instituted this action to modify a divorce decree entered by the circuit court of Winnebago County. Respondent, David Ingrassia, counterpetitioned for modification. After a trial, the court ruled in favor of petitioner, modified the decree accordingly, and denied respondent's counterpetition. Petitioner appeals from the judgment with respect to the amount awarded to her. Respondent cross-appeals with respect to the denial of his motion to terminate or greatly reduce maintenance.

Pursuant to the parties' divorce decree entered on May 9, 1975, petitioner was awarded custody of the minor child, Jacqueline, then age 7. Respondent was ordered to pay $250 per month in child support ($3,000 per year) and $750 per month for alimony ($9,000 per year). In addition, the decree provided that the parties were to jointly discuss and determine between themselves the need for and the payment of any extraordinary medical, hospital, dental, psychiatric and optical care for the child.

On March 3, 1982, petitioner filed a petition to modify the decree praying for an increase in child support and maintenance and for attorney fees incurred by her. Subsequently, two other counts and an amendment to the petition were added. Count II was filed on June 10, 1983. On June 30, 1983, petitioner filed a motion to amend the petition. Thereafter, petitioner sought leave to file count III. Count III was dismissed on a motion for summary judgment in favor of respondent. The remaining two counts of the petition to modify the decree and the emergency petition for psychiatric care, which was filed on October 23, 1983, were heard by the trial court on February 23, 1984.

Respondent is chief operating officer and director of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Rockford. He has been employed by the association for the past 25 years. In 1975, respondent earned a gross income of $44,307 plus a $6,000 bonus. He earned income of $66,715.66 in 1982 and $66,617.16 in 1983 plus $4,800 income from director's fees. At the time of trial, respondent's salary was $70,000 plus a director's fee of $4,800.

In addition to his income, his employer paid for numerous expenses including, but not limited to, a private club's dues, automobile gas and maintenance, and insurance on his car, life, health and disability totaling approximately $11,200 in 1982 and $9,700 in 1983.

Respondent's other assets in 1984 included, among others, an $8,000 home equity as of 1978 and a joint bank account of $7,000. From September 1977 through June 1982, respondent voluntarily paid for Jacqueline's education at Keith Country Day School, a private school.

At the time of the divorce, petitioner stated her standard of living was "considered not just basic needs but also the higher standard * * * of the upper class," one with "no financial restraints." She had received $10,000 a year for food, maids, gifts, and clothes. She went on trips four times a year and belonged to two local private clubs.

At the time of trial, petitioner was unemployed but had been seeking employment since 1982. She had earned the following gross income:

1975 ---------- $2,660.00 1976 ---------- 2,263.00 1977 ---------- -0- 1978 ---------- 7,523.00 1979 ---------- 12,769.00 1980 ---------- 13,777.00 1981 ---------- 10,004.77 1982 ---------- 13,507.00

Petitioner was 43 years old in 1984 and is in good health. She had taught school before and after her daughter was born, but is unable to teach now because she cannot obtain certification since she has only completed three years of college. Petitioner has held jobs in public relations and sales, researching and organizing, and publishing. She received an offer from a well-known publishing company but did not take it because she would not sell her home and could not afford tuition for her daughter at a private school in order to relocate in Chicago. Petitioner testified that from the time the petition was filed to the time of the hearing she was not employed because her daughter required 89-90% of her attention and the job market in Rockford was not good.

In 1974-75, petitioner had monthly expenses of $2,006.25, of which $482.20 was attributable to the child. In 1982, in a budget submitted into evidence which was based on her 1984 budget, her expenses were $4,701.33 per month of which $871.67 went to her daughter. She spent $52,700 in 1982. Eight hundred dollars a month was spent on food alone. In 1984, petitioner spent between $4,556 and $5,783, of which $1,909 was directly attributable to the child. Her 1984 budget included spending in the amount of $67,400.

Petitioner had borrowed $30,000 from her father to help her meet expenses. In addition, she filed for bankruptcy on February 10, 1984. Petitioner's home was in foreclosure, but this was stayed due to her bankruptcy petition. In 1975, her monthly mortgage payment was $243. In 1982, the payment was $887 and $1,000 in 1984.

The educational and psychological needs of the child, Jacqueline, who is now 17, were the subject of much testimony. From age three through ninth grade, Jacqueline attended Keith Country Day School at a cost in 1982 of $4,500 per year. Jacqueline did not go back to Keith because she refused to attend, her mother could not afford it, and her father refused to pay the tuition. Jacqueline also refused to ...

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