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09/24/87 In Re Marriage of Madeline D. Hughes

September 24, 1987



and THOMAS S. HUGHES, Respondent-Appellant

513 N.E.2d 1203, 160 Ill. App. 3d 680, 112 Ill. Dec. 594 1987.IL.1431

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. Earle McCaskill, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE WELCH delivered the opinion of the court. KASSERMAN* and HARRISON, JJ., concur.


On October 11, 1985, the circuit court of St. Clair County entered an order for the dissolution of the marriage between petitioner Madeline Davitz Hughes and respondent Thomas S. Hughes. From this order, respondent appeals and raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court properly awarded petitioner a right of reimbursement of nonmarital property; (2) whether the trial court's division of respondent's pension was an abuse of discretion; (3) whether the trial court's maintenance award was appropriate; and (4) whether the trial court had the authority to impose a lien on respondent's nonmarital property for payment of lump sum maintenance. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

From April 1978 to July 21, 1980, the date of petitioner and respondent's marriage, the parties lived together in Oxnard, California. During most of that time in California, petitioner worked as an eligibility interviewer for the Ventura County Public Agency Social Service earning $8,500 per year and as an alcohol counselor for Ventura County earning $7.50 per hour. After a tubal pregnancy operation, and at the request of respondent, petitioner quit her full-time job as an eligibility interviewer. She continued to work as an alcohol counselor and also as a crisis counselor throughout 1979.

The parties lived in respondent's home, which he had purchased prior to the parties' relationship. Before petitioner moved in with respondent, she sold her house in Oxnard. Not long after petitioner moved in with respondent, the parties filled out and signed a record of confidential marriage after having participated in a wedding ceremony. However, without petitioner's knowledge respondent failed to file the record and the parties, on July 21, 1980, went through the same procedure again but at that time the record was filed. During the period after petitioner moved in and the second record of confidential marriage, petitioner made purchases totaling $1,585.53 for various household items and contributed $2,500 to the equity in the house for a total of $4,085.53.

In 1980, the parties moved to Illinois and took up residence with petitioner's parents. With the assistance of petitioner's trust fund set up for her children from a previous marriage, they purchased a home in Freeburg. They initially purchased the land and later built a home on it without the assistance of a construction contractor.

Respondent performed some of the carpentry work, dug trenches, and put up wallboard. Petitioner did some of the painting, planted the grass and cooked meals for the carpenters. Petitioner's father put in the furnace, air conditioning, gutters and leveled the land. Petitioner's friends, family, siblings, and parents also worked on the house. Petitioner's brother allowed the parties to buy material for the house at cost through his business. The unfinished portions of the house are assessed at $6,600.

In April 1982 the parties financed the building of the Illinois home, with petitioner's parents co-signing the loan and placing their farm as collateral because the parties did not have a contractor for the construction. Mortgage payments were $433 per month, and after October 1, 1985, the payment increased to $447 per month because of a variable interest rate. At the time of the September 3 and 4, 1985, hearing, the balance on the mortgage was approximately $50,000.

When the parties moved to Illinois, petitioner quit working and mainly stayed at home doing the domestic chores. In 1983, petitioner worked at home baby-sitting and received a paid internship at a Veteran's Administration home. Petitioner also began to attend Washington University. By December 1985, petitioner completed all course requirements for bachelor and master's degrees in social work.

Respondent has been employed as a computer programmer working at Scott Air Force Base earning between $38,000 and $39,000 per year. He pays $800 a month for his living expenses. Respondent had stopped paying the $100 per week for maintenance which the court ordered him to pay. Respondent rents out the home in Oxnard for $550 ...

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