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06/01/88 In Re Marriage of Sarah Ann Hanson

June 1, 1988

IN RE MARRIAGE OF SARAH ANN HANSON, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

and CHARLES W. HANSON, Respondent-Appellant

524 N.E.2d 695, 170 Ill. App. 3d 298, 120 Ill. Dec. 665 1988.IL.861

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. Melvin E. Dunn, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE WOODWARD delivered the opinion of the court. NASH and INGLIS, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WOODWARD

Respondent, Charles W. Hanson, appeals from the judgment of dissolution of marriage entered by the circuit court of Kane County which dissolved the marriage, distributed the marital property of the parties, and awarded maintenance and attorney fees.

The parties were married in 1959. At the time the marriage was dissolved, petitioner, Sarah Ann Hanson, and respondent were 49 and 51 years of age, respectively. They had three children, two of whom were minors during the proceedings. Respondent was employed by Morton Thiokol as Graphic Arts Director; he had worked for that company since 1967. Petitioner, employed in the first five years of marriage as a graphics artist, stopped working in 1964 to raise the couple's children. In the several years preceding this action, petitioner had partially resumed her graphics career by completing a number of free lance graphics assignments for which she received rather insubstantial payments.

On appeal, respondent raises the following issues: (1) petitioner failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that respondent was guilty of extreme, repeated, and unprovoked mental cruelty; (2) a 70/30 distribution of marital assets in petitioner's favor was an abuse of discretion; (3) the maintenance award to petitioner is an abuse of discretion; (4) petitioner failed to rebut the presumption of a gift to the marital estate; and (5) the judgment for attorney fees is excessive and unwarranted.

Respondent initially argues that petitioner failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that respondent is guilty of extreme, repeated, and unprovoked mental cruelty. Section 401(a) of the statute provides in pertinent part:

"The Court shall enter a judgment of dissolution of marriage if . . . one of the following grounds for dissolution has been proved:

(1) That, without cause or provocation by the petitioner: the respondent . . . has been guilty of extreme and repeated physical or mental cruelty . . .." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 401(a).

The statute does not clearly define "extreme and repeated cruelty," but case law defines grounds as "a course of unprovoked, offensive conduct toward one's spouse which causes embarrassment, humiliation and anguish so as to render the spouse's life miserable and unendurable, and which actually affects the spouse's physical or mental health." Christian v. Christian (1979), 69 Ill. App. 3d 450, 454.

At trial, petitioner testified as to the following. She detailed a course of verbal abuse by respondent which continued throughout their 28-year marriage. This verbal abuse was ...


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