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September 30, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Ogle County. No. 91-D-165. Honorable John L. Moore, Judge, Presiding.

Rehearing Denied November 14, 1994.

PECCARELLI, Inglis, Bowman

The opinion of the court was delivered by: PECCARELLI

JUSTICE PECCARELLI delivered the opinion of the court:

On September 18, 1991, the petitioner, Robert Cameron Ward (Robert), filed a verified petition for dissolution of marriage against the respondent, Dorothy Maria Ward (Dorothy). Judgment was entered on grounds. Following a contested part II hearing, the trial court entered a "Final Judgment and Order" on December 18, 1992. Several post-trial orders were also entered. Following each order Dorothy filed a separate notice of appeal. Dorothy filed (1) appeal No. 2-93-0292 on March 8, 1993; (2) appeal No. 2-93-0428 on April 6, 1993; (3) appeal No. 2-93-1382 on November 29, 1993; and (4) appeal No. 2-94-0023 on December 29, 1993. On May 7, 1993, Dorothy moved to consolidate appeal No. 2-93-0428 with No. 2-93-0292. We allowed this motion on May 14, 1993. On January 13, 1994, Dorothy moved to consolidate appeals Nos. 2-93-1382 and 2-94-0023 with No. 2-93-0292. We allowed this motion on January 20, 1993. All of Dorothy's appeals, therefore, have been consolidated under No. 2-93-0292. Robert cross-appeals from a post-trial order of August 18, 1993. Robert's cross-appeal (No. 2-93-1031) has been consolidated with this case for decision only. Taken with the case are (1) Robert's motion to amend his notice of cross-appeal to a notice of appeal; (2) Robert's motion to combine his cross-appeal (No. 2-93-1031) with Dorothy's consolidated appeal (No. 2-93-0292); and (3) Dorothy's motion to strike Robert's brief. Additionally, Dorothy has objected to Robert's motion to combine, and Robert has responded to this objection. These matters will be disposed of in the course of this opinion.

Dorothy contends that the trial court abused its discretion by (1) failing to award her an increased amount of maintenance for an extended period of time considering her age, the duration of the marriage, her current indebtedness and lack of income, the couple's high marital standard of living, and Robert's annual earnings of nearly $94,000; and (2) failing to grant her an equitable portion of the marital assets in light of Robert's significant earning ability. Robert contends that the trial court was without jurisdiction to modify the judgment of December 18, 1992, and therefore erred when it (1) entered two qualified domestic relations orders (QDRO) on November 2, 1993, setting a different valuation date for his employer-maintained pension plan (Pension Plan), and a different date for his employer-maintained savings and investment plan (ESIP); and (2) reduced the unpaid portion of the cash awarded to Dorothy to a money judgment. We affirm.

The parties were married in 1966. Although they have two children by the marriage, there are neither custody nor support issues before us. Dorothy moved out of the marital home in September 1989. At the time of trial Dorothy was 49, while Robert was 50.

In the early years of the marriage, Robert served in the United States Navy. Upon leaving active service, he joined the United States Naval Reserve. Robert rose to the level of captain. Although he submitted a letter of resignation in June 1992, at the time of trial the resignation had not been officially accepted. Robert served 27 1/2 years in the Navy and the Reserve. He accumulated 3,659 points in his United States Navy Retirement Fund (Retirement Fund); all but 595 of these points were earned during the marriage. The total number of points accumulated corresponds to a monthly retirement benefit.

Immediately after Robert left active service, he attended graduate school in Norman, Oklahoma. To support Robert's education, Dorothy worked as a secretary in Oklahoma. Additional support was provided by the G.I. bill and Robert's part-time employment at a college radio station. Robert received his master's degree in business administration (M.B.A.).

Robert is an employee of Commonwealth Edison Company (Com Ed). After completing his M.B.A., Robert accepted a job offer with Com Ed. The parties settled in Palatine, Illinois. After four years Com Ed transferred Robert and the parties moved to Schaumburg, Illinois. Five years and one transfer later, the parties resided in Byron, Illinois. Byron was the site of the parties' marital home at the time of this proceeding.

Robert's current assignment with Com Ed is assistant to the vice-president P.W.R. operations. The vice-president controls the nuclear division of Com Ed. Robert's title is "administrative engineer." Robert's annual Com Ed salary is $93,880. Additionally, Robert participates in a Com Ed Pension Plan and ESIP. Robert also maintains an insured retirement account (IRA) with A.G. Edwards. The IRA was worth more than $14,000 at the time of dissolution.

The parties enjoyed a comfortable standard of living. Dorothy testified that the family took "very nice vacations a couple weeks at a time." This was corroborated by Robert who agreed that the parties vacationed in "far off places." Dorothy stated that during the marriage "she rarely had to make an either/or decision." Further, Dorothy testified that the parties enjoyed dinners out as well as movies and the theater. The parties owned several rental properties in Rockford, Illinois. They also owned three cars, sent a daughter to private school, and owned a completely furnished 12-room home. Dorothy's exhibit No. 2 lists the contents. This list serves to corroborate Dorothy's testimony concerning the marital standard of living. A sampling of the possessions accumulated include two 25-inch television sets, a 33-piece set of Lenox crystal, a home computer, a Hammond organ, and two paintings by Spanish surrealist, Salvadore Dali.

Dorothy pursued her educational goals during the marriage. Dorothy earned a bachelor degree in philosophy and economics in 1987 and an M.B.A. in 1989. Dorothy testified that starting a business was "an ultimate consideration" throughout her college education.

Dorothy owns and operates her own business. In 1989 Dorothy began to evaluate locations for a business. In September 1989 Dorothy moved from the marital home. Robert stated that Dorothy "made up her mind" to move to the Chicago area; Robert claims the move was not a family decision. Dorothy stated that the couple anticipated Robert would be transferred to the Chicago area; Dorothy claims her move was a family decision. When Dorothy moved to the Chicago area from the marital home in Byron, she took a job with a temporary agency called "Wiz." After leaving Wiz, Dorothy started her ...

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