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Claydon v. Claydon

August 12, 1999

IN RE: THE MARRIAGE OF MARILYN J. CLAYDON, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, AND RICHARD J. CLAYDON, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.


Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 96D222 Honorable Donald D. Bernardi, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Myerscough

In these proceedings, the circuit court dissolved the parties' marriage, distributed the marital and non-marital property, and awarded maintenance to petitioner. Petitioner appeals aspects of both the property distribution and maintenance award. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner, Marilyn Claydon, and respondent, Richard Claydon, were married for approximately 28 years. They had two children, both of whom had graduated college and were emancipated at the time of these dissolution proceedings. Shortly after their marriage the parties lived in the Washington, D.C., area while respondent attended dental school. Thereafter, they moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where respondent had a one-year internship. Petitioner worked throughout the time respondent was in dental school and worked in New Orleans until the parties' first child was born. Thereafter, petitioner was primarily a full-time homemaker, caring for the children and involved in various social and civic activities. Petitioner did work full- time in a clerical position for approximately two years in a high school. Other than that position and sporadic part-time employment, petitioner did not work in a permanent, full-time position until she obtained a position with a travel agency. She initially worked for the agency as a part-time clerk but had been a full-time travel agent for approximately 2 years at the time of the trial in this matter. Petitioner's gross income from her travel agency position was $25,368 in 1996 and was $28,540 in 1997.

After leaving New Orleans, the parties moved to Urbana, Illinois, where respondent performed a three-year oral surgery residency at Carle Hospital. The parties moved to Bloomington, Illinois, in 1980 when respondent was asked to join the practice of two other oral surgeons. Respondent joined the Affiliates in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (Affiliates), where he continued to practice at the time of this litigation. Affiliates is a corporation, and respondent is one of three current shareholders. He owns 55 shares of stock in the corporation. Respondent's gross income for 1995 was $154,338, for 1996 was $218,152, and for 1997 was $178,285.

After an extensive hearing concerning the income, expenses, and assets of the parties, the circuit court determined the value of disputed assets and, based on those determinations, evenly divided the marital assets. Respondent received $1,699,436 in assets and was assigned $562,555 in debt. In addition, he was ordered to pay petitioner $7,239. Petitioner received $1,122,404 in assets and was assigned no debts. With the $7,239 payment from respondent, petitioner received $1,129,642, and respondent received $1,129,643 as a net marital property distribution. In addition, the court ordered respondent to pay petitioner $5,500 per month in maintenance for a period of six years.

Petitioner asserts the circuit court erred with regard to both the property distribution and the maintenance award. Concerning the property distribution, petitioner claims the court should have valued respondent's shares in Affiliates at $3,400 per share (the price respondent would be entitled to receive upon death, disability, or retirement) rather than $1,000 per share (the price respondent would receive upon voluntary or involuntary termination prior to retirement). With regard to maintenance, petitioner asserts the court improperly calculated her housing expenses and failed to properly compute respondent's income, resulting in a maintenance award that was too low and of insufficient duration.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Property Distribution

The distribution of marital property rests within the sound discretion of the circuit court. The circuit court's distribution of assets will only be disturbed on review when no reasonable person would agree with the decision reached by the circuit court. Any conflicts in testimony concerning the valuation of such assets are matters to be resolved by the trier of fact. In re Marriage of Lee, 246 Ill. App. 3d 628, 636-37, 615 N.E.2d 1314, 1321 (1993).

Respondent owns 55 shares of Affiliates, the oral surgery group with which he practices. The value of the stock is set forth in a buy- sell agreement. The board of directors of Affiliates (of which respondent is one of three members) sets the value of the stock annually. The buy-sell agreement places two values on the shares of Affiliates. Pursuant to the buy-sell agreement in effect at the time of trial, if a member of the corporation leaves the corporation voluntarily or involuntarily prior to retirement, the member's shares will be purchased at $1,000 per share. Upon retirement, death, or disability a member's shares will be purchased at the rate of $3,400 per share.

Affiliates' accountant testified that the $1,000-per- share price was intended to reflect the hard assets of the corporation, while the $3,400-per-share price was based on a capitalization of earnings and was intended to include the presumed value of goodwill. He further testified that two doctors had left the corporation prior to retirement and each had received $1,000 per share for their stock. Another doctor had retired and received $3,200 per share, the retirement price pursuant to the buy-sell agreement at that time. The circuit court assessed the value of the stock at $1,000 per share for purposes of property distribution.

Respondent was 53 years old at the time of the trial in this matter. Affiliates' buy-sell agreement would allow respondent to retire at age 55 and receive the higher price per share at that time. Petitioner alleges that because respondent will be able to sell his stock at the higher price in the relatively near future, the circuit court's valuation of the stock at the lower price has provided respondent with a windfall. Petitioner further notes that in financial disclosure statements prepared before the parties separated, respondent listed the value of the stock at $3,400 per share. In addition, petitioner asserts the stock should be viewed as similar to pension benefits where a certain age must be attained before vesting. As a pension benefit that accrued value during the marriage, she argues, the stock should have been valued at the higher price.

As noted above, Affiliates' accountant testified that the $1,000- per-share price was intended to reflect the hard assets of the corporation, while the $3,400-per-share price was intended to include the presumed value of goodwill. In In re Marriage of Zells, 143 Ill. 2d 251, 255-56, 572 N.E.2d 944, 946 (1991), the supreme court quoted with approval language from In re Marriage of Courtright, ...


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