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August 23, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 92-D-751. Honorable Rodney W. Equi, Judge, Presiding.

McLAREN, Inglis, Geiger

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mclaren

JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court:

The petitioner, Christopher Hahin (husband), appeals from a marital dissolution order of the circuit court of Du Page County which declared that he dissipated marital assets, ordered him to paymaintenance to the respondent, Sandra L. Hahin (wife), of $400 per month for five years, and denied his request for joint custody of their two minor children. For the following reasons, we vacate the property settlement and maintenance award. We affirm the custody determination.

The Hahins were married in 1969 and filed for dissolution in 1992. The parties stipulated that the husband earned $55,500 a year in his job as an engineer for the Department of Transportation (DOT). The wife earned approximately $8,500 a year from child care in her home. The husband has bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering. The wife has a bachelor's degree in social science, but she did not work outside the home.

The couple moved to Glen Ellyn in 1981. He was laid off from two jobs he held in the area, both because of cutbacks at the businesses. In 1987, the husband accepted a job with the DOT in Springfield, Illinois. The couple agreed that the husband would maintain a residence in Springfield and the wife would stay in Glen Ellyn with the children. At that time, the couple considered the separation "temporary." Evidence at trial indicated that the marriage had broken down by the time the husband purchased a home in Springfield in 1991. The record does not make clear exactly when the breakdown occurred.

The husband testified during a two-day trial that he wanted joint custody because he felt such an arrangement would provide an important balance for his children and that he could help them with their education and general development.

The wife requested sole custody, saying that she was more attuned to her children than was the husband and that it would be difficult to share custody with the husband residing in Springfield. She also testified that she did not seek employment outside the home since separating from the husband because she needed additional training to qualify for a job in her field.

While residing in Springfield, the husband continued to support the family, including paying a second mortgage on the Glen Ellyn home. He purchased a home in Springfield for $72,000 secured with "various mortgages." The Glen Ellyn home was valued at $118,000. The parties stipulated that the wife had acquired nonmarital assets of $18,574 and the husband had nonmarital assets worth $11,722.

The trial court awarded the wife a disproportionately large share of marital property because it found that the husband "dissipated marital assets, in that he utilized marital funds for the Springfield residence and his living expenses there at a time when the marriage was broken down." The court awarded the wife the Glen Ellyn residencesubject to a first mortgage of about $68,000, an automobile, half of the couple's personal property investment, the 1991 tax refund, half of any 1992 tax refund, and the Glen Ellyn home furnishings.

The husband was awarded the Springfield home subject to its debt, other vehicles, half of the personal property investments, his pension and deferred compensation plan, and half of any 1992 tax refund. He was ordered to assume all credit card debt (about $17,000) and to provide insurance coverage and pay medical expenses for the family. He was also ordered to pay the wife $400 per month for five years, subject to review after five years.

Although finding that both parties "appear to be fit and proper persons to have custody of the children," the court granted the wife sole custody "because they [the children] have resided in Glen Ellyn some distance from Mr. Hahin, and are clearly integrated into the community there." The husband was granted "liberal visitation" and ordered to pay $917 per month in child support.

On appeal, the husband contends that the trial court erred in (1) finding him guilty of dissipation of marital assets, which led to the court awarding the wife a disproportionate split of marital assets; (2) ordering him to pay $400 per month maintenance for five years; and (3) granting the wife sole custody of their children. We believe that the finding of dissipation was not supported by the evidence. Therefore, we vacate the trial court's order as to the division of marital assets and spousal maintenance. However, we affirm the trial court's order concerning custody.

When dividing marital property, trial courts are required to consider all relevant statutory factors ( In re Marriage of Jacks (1990), 200 Ill. App. 3d 112, 118-19, 146 Ill. Dec. 143, 558 N.E.2d 106), which include the contribution of each party; the dissipation of assets by either party; the value of property assigned to each spouse; the duration of the marriage; the relevant economic conditions of each party; the obligations arising from prior marriages; the antenuptial agreements; the age, health, station and occupation of each party; the custody provisions of the children; the prospects of each ...

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