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In Re Marriage of Guntren



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jersey County; the Hon. Thomas G. Russell, Judge, presiding.


The petitioner, Ruth Guntren, and the respondent Frank Guntren, were married in Jersey County, Illinois, on April 27, 1979. Both had been previously married and divorced. As a result of her prior marriage the petitioner received $400 per month in child support and $15,000 per year maintenance. She was a registered nurse. The respondent was an insurance agent.

On December 9, 1983, the petitioner filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage. Respondent thereafter filed an answer and counterpetition for dissolution. At the time the petition was filed, petitioner was 52 years of age and respondent was 49. An order was entered on March 2, 1984, dissolving the marriage and reserving issues of property, maintenance and debt allocation. The trial court held several hearings concerning property disposition and entered its order with reference to the assignment of non-marital property and division of marital property and indebtedness on January 23, 1985.

The respondent appeals this order, contending: (1) The trial court abused its discretion in that: (a) the marital property was not divided in just proportions; and (b) the trial court failed to properly consider and apply the statutory factors concerning property division; (2) The trial court erred when it failed to reimburse the respondent for non-marital funds contributed to marital property; (3) The trial court erred in the division of personal property and the assignment of debts; and (4) The trial court erred when it denied respondent's motion for reimbursement of temporary support.

An extensive recitation of the facts is necessary in order to resolve these issues. In June of 1979 the parties purchased a 63 1/2-acre farm and residence. Title was taken in joint tenancy. The purchase price was $78,000, with $38,000 required as the down payment, and apparently a $40,000 mortgage given to secure the balance. The parties do not question the eventual finding by the court that this farm was marital property.

After the marriage each party maintained separate, individual checking accounts. The petitioner had separate funds consisting of support payments for her two minor children and the maintenance payment from her former marriage. During the Guntren marriage she earned approximately $2,000. The respondent kept his earnings from his insurance agency in his separate checking account. According to his testimony, his net earnings for 1979 were $13,438.07; for 1980, $8,121.40; for 1981, $12,403.41; and for 1982, $6,447.24.

A joint savings account was established on June 7, 1979. The original deposit in this account was $59,000. Petitioner testified that this deposit included funds from the sale of a house that had belonged to her mother, funds paid to her by her ex-husband, and other funds which came from her checking account.

The parties appear to agree that the original $59,000 placed in the savings account was used in part as follows: $5,000 for the purchase of a pontoon boat; $38,000 as down payment on the farm; $3,500 for farm renovation; and $12,000 withdrawn by respondent and stated to be for farm renovation. An annuity belonging to the petitioner prior to the marriage was cashed in December of 1979. The respondent testified that this produced the sum of $15,619.55. He further testified that $12,000 of this was paid on the mortgage and $2,181.91 was paid on interest, the remaining balance of $1,437.64 was used for renovation of the property.

Testimony revealed that on June 2, 1980, $13,100 was deposited in the couple's joint savings account, with $1,500 placed in the petitioner's account. Petitioner contended that these funds came from the maintenance payments of her former husband.

The respondent testified that on August 6, 1981, the petitioner contributed an additional $4,000 to be paid on the mortgage principal.

The petitioner testified that she spent $2,000 of non-marital funds to renovate the upstairs bedroom.

The respondent, with respect to his non-marital funds, states that he came into the marriage with $12,000 from a fire loss, approximately $13,000 from the sale of his residence and $18,246.12 from inheritances, and that he expended these funds for principal and interest on the mortgage and on repairs and renovations for the residence. He argues, in addition, that he expended not only his personal earnings but also considerable labor in renovating the farm residence.

The respondent in his brief concedes that petitioner made contributions to the marital real estate amounting to $69,609.55, although this sum would include $2,181.91 mortgage interest. It does not include the original $3,500 used for farm renovation, $2,000 allegedly spent by petitioner for renovation of the upstairs bedroom, and $1,437.64 spent on renovation out of the funds from the annuity check. Our calculations show a figure of $74,365.28 of petitioner's traceable non-marital funds invested in the marital real estate.

The respondent testified that in his opinion the real estate was worth $120,000, while a real estate appraiser testified that it was worth $89,000. The ...

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