APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT
and Cross-Appellee, and JOHN B. COURTRIGHT,
Respondent-Appellee and Cross-Appellant
540 N.E.2d 1027, 185 Ill. App. 3d 74, 133 Ill. Dec. 161 1989.IL.954
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Iroquois County; the Hon. Robert Dannehl, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE STOUDER delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY and SCOTT, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE STOUDER
The trial court entered a judgment for the dissolution of the parties' marriage, which included a two-year, reviewable maintenance award of $1,100 per month to the petitioner, Marie R. Courtright. Marie appealed, arguing that permanent maintenance should have been awarded. On appeal, this court affirmed the maintenance award granted by the trial court. In re Marriage of Courtright (1987), 155 Ill. App. 3d 55, 507 N.E.2d 891.
At the end of the two-year period, the trial court reviewed Marie's circumstances and found that she had failed to put forth a good-faith effort to become self-sufficient. The court nonetheless extended the maintenance award for two additional years, but reduced the amount she was to receive to $600 per month for the first year and $350 per month for the second year. Maintenance was then to automatically terminate after the second year. Marie appeals the reduction in the amount and duration of the award. The respondent, John B. Courtright, cross-appeals, arguing that the maintenance award should not have been continued for an additional two years.
The record shows that the parties were married for 29 years. At the time of the review hearing, Marie was 55 years old and had an education degree from Northwestern University. She was not, however, licensed to teach and prior to the dissolution of the marriage had not worked outside the home for 28 years. She was generally in good health, although she had some residual disability in her left foot as the result of childhood polio and had some discomfort in her right foot from an arthritic condition. As a result, she was unable to work at jobs that required her to be on her feet for any length of time.
John, a licensed physician, worked in a three-man clinic as a general practitioner. His gross income for the four years prior to the dissolution ranged between $83,000 and $100,000. In 1986, his income was $101,565 and in 1987, $101,300.
As part of the property settlement, Marie received, among other items, the marital home valued at $135,000 and a 200-acre farm valued at $360,000. The net value of all of the property she received was $484,766. John received $234,100 in assets.
After the divorce, Marie worked at several jobs. In the beginning of 1986, she worked at a gift shop in a Colorado resort for several months. She then returned to Illinois in the summer of 1986 and worked at a Holiday Inn as a front-desk clerk. Marie testified that she was fired from that position after two months because her age and her appearance did not fit the company image. Thereafter, she applied at several other places, including St. Joseph's Catholic School in Kentland, Indiana. She was subsequently recruited by IDS American Express, where she underwent a six-month training program and passed the test to become a financial planner. She was to receive a salary of $24,000 her first year. Thereafter, compensation would be solely on a commission basis. However, Marie testified that she left American Express in October of 1987, because she realized that given the office expenses she would have to pay out of her commission, she could not support herself on the remainder. She then started working at Dean Witter in a support staff position, earning $12,000 per year. Marie testified that she was fired from that position in March of 1988, because she sounded confused on the telephone and missed too many days from work due to court appearances.
The trial court found that Marie had failed to make a good-faith effort to become self-sufficient. In support of its determination, the court focused on two factors. First, it found that Marie had failed to obtain her teaching certificate, which would have enabled her to utilize her degree. Second, it found that she had not sold the marital home. The court noted that although Marie had the right to gamble with the real estate market in order to obtain the highest price possible, it would not permit that risk to be indefinitely passed along to John. The court stated that selling the house would significantly reduce Marie's expenses and would convert an ...