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03/13/87 In Re Marriage of Carole N. Heller

March 13, 1987



and FLOYD N. HELLER, Respondent-Appellant

505 N.E.2d 1294, 153 Ill. App. 3d 224, 106 Ill. Dec. 503 1987.IL.300

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Herman Knell, Judge, presiding.


Justice Murray delivered the opinion of the court. Sullivan, P.J., and Lorenz, J., concur.


Respondent, Floyd N. Heller (Floyd), appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County dissolving his marriage to petitioner, Carole N. Heller (Carole), and an order awarding attorney fees entered pursuant to the judgment. Specifically, Floyd contends that the trial court abused its discretion with respect to the division of the marital property, the amount and duration of maintenance awarded to Carole, and the amount of attorney fees awarded to his original trial counsel. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand the cause for further proceedings.

The parties were married on September 8, 1962. Two children were born as a result of the marriage, Tamara in 1963 and Laurie in 1965. In August 1982 the parties separated; Floyd vacated the marital home. On April 26, 1983, Carole filed a petition for dissolution of her marriage to Floyd. The petition was dismissed for want of prosecution on August 15, 1984, but refiled two days later. The matter was tried on December 4 and 5, 1984.

At the time of trial, Floyd was 51 years old. He was employed by University Anesthesiologists, Inc., and was an associate professor at Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital. He received a gross salary of $135,800 and a bonus of $20,000 annually. Floyd was also a participant in an employee "Cafeteria Plan," which provided annual nontaxable benefits in the amount of $10,000 to defray the cost of his disability insurance premiums, health and life insurance premiums, parking dues, professional subscriptions, and, on the basis of the availability of remaining funds, reimbursement for medical services. His employer also contributed $50,000 annually to his pension and profit sharing plans. Floyd's monthly expenses were $5,945: $1,300 for rent, $270 for utilities, $600 for food, $350 for transportation, and $3,425 in maintenance to Carole. Floyd was also responsible for payment of $21,000 annually for the college tuition of Tamara ($7,000), who was a senior, and Laurie ($14,000), who was a sophomore.

Carole was 47 years old at the time of trial. She possessed a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education but had been out of that job market for 20 years. She also had taken a number of culinary courses. At the time of the dissolution proceedings, she was employed part time by a travel agency, having recently completed a training course, and received a gross salary of $105 per week. Carole estimated that her ultimate income from full-time employment as a travel agent would be $15,000 annually. Prior to her current employment, Carole testified that she received $9,800 annually from dividends on certain stocks ($5,000) and rental property owned by her ($4,800). Carole's monthly expenses amounted to $4,939 and included $700 for her psychologist, $103 for haircuts and manicures, $110 for telephone expenses, $200 for entertainment, and $266 for landscaping and snow removal on the real estate owned by her. Carole also testified that her yearly expenses were $6,000 for clothing, $2,400 for vacations, and $951 for expenses arising from maintenance of the rental property owned by her.

The parties stipulated that the total value of their marital property was $886,927 and the value of Carole's non-marital property $109,136.

Following a bench trial, the court entered an order dissolving the parties' marriage. The court's order further provided, among other things: (1) that Floyd pay Carole $3,500 per month in permanent maintenance (based upon her expenses of $59,000 annually less her anticipated $15,000 salary), to terminate on her death; (2) that Floyd continue payment of $21,000 per year for the combined college expenses of the parties' daughters; (3) that Floyd pay all medical and dental expenses incurred by the parties' daughters and that he carry life insurance on his life in the amount of $50,000 with each daughter named as beneficiary until each daughter attains the age of majority or completes her college education, whichever shall last occur; and (4) that Floyd pay Carole's outstanding medical bills in the amount of $9,435, unless he agreed to file a joint income tax return for the year 1984 and paid all indebtedness resulting therefrom. (Floyd's appellate brief indicates he subsequently opted to pay the medical bills.) The court also awarded Carole all her non-marital property, consisting of real estate located in Indiana ($55,000), a Central Life Assurance Company annuity ($32,187), a Kemper municipal bond fund ($5,232), a Drexel Lambert stock account ($10,189), and a Merrill Lynch stock account ($6,528).

The court further ordered that the marital property of the parties be divided as follows:


Marital home* $172,000.00

Furniture and furnishings, etc. 70,000.00

Kemper annuity 133,765.00

Thunderbird municipal bond 5,000.00

One-half cash surrender value

of three life insurance

policies ...

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