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In re Marriage of Lindsey-Robinson

May 13, 2002

IN RE MARRIAGE OF DEBRA ANN LINDSEY-ROBINSON, N.K.A. DEBRA ANN WAKITSCH, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND JON DOUGLAS LINDSEY-ROBINSON, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 93 D 18467 The Honorable Allen S. Goldberg and Veronica B. Mathein, Judges Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Cohen

UNPUBLISHED

Respondent Jon Douglas Lindsey-Robinson appeals pro se from orders of the circuit court of Cook County awarding petitioner Debra Ann Lindsey-Robinson contributory attorney fees and granting Debra's motion for entry of an amended qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). On appeal, Jon alleges that the circuit court erred in: (1) accepting a stipulation entered into by the parties with respect to the valuation of Jon's pension plan; (2) approving Debra's proposed amended QDRO with respect to the distribution of the marital portion of Jon's pension plan; and (3) awarding Debra contributory attorney fees after judgment was entered. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

Jon and Debra were married on May 5, 1989, in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1990, Jon legally adopted Debra's minor children: April, born August 29, 1976, and Cody, born May 17, 1978. Debra and Jon lived together in Iowa City, Iowa, until June of 1993, when Debra left the marital home and moved to Illinois with the children. Jon remained in Iowa.

On December 21, 1993, Debra filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in the circuit court of Cook County claiming irreconcilable differences. Over a period of three years, Debra's petition was dismissed for want of prosecution and subsequently reinstated no fewer than three times. During this time period, Jon also filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in the district court of Polk County, Iowa. On March 4, 1996, the Iowa district court entered a default decree of dissolution of marriage on behalf of Jon. On April 3, 1996, Debra filed a motion to vacate the default order, which was granted on May 16, 1996. Jon then appealed to the Iowa appellate court. On September 24, 1997, the Iowa appellate court issued its decision affirming the district court's order vacating the default judgment. Jon then appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which declined to hear his case. Debra's cause was once again reinstated in the circuit court of Cook County and finally, after years of procedural turmoil, trial began on April 13, 1998.

At trial, the parties stipulated as to the valuation of Jon's interest in his Iowa Public Employee's Retirement System (IPERS) defined benefit pension plan. The valuation was based on an April 9, 1998, report drafted by Louis A. Epstein. Mr. Epstein, a certified public accountant, was hired by Jon's attorney to calculate the present value of Jon's pension plan. Mr. Epstein determined that the present value of the pension plan was $159,171. Mr. Epstein divided this total amount into non-marital and marital portions. Mr. Epstein opined that $66,853 represented Jon's non-marital portion and $92,318 represented the marital portion.

On May 27, 1998, the circuit court entered a judgment of dissolution of marriage incorporating the stipulated value of Jon's pension plan. The judgment stated that the stipulated marital portion of the pension plan ($92,318) "shall be equally divided between the parties pursuant to an appropriate Qualified Domestic Relations Order." On August 12, 1998, after entry of judgment, the circuit court conducted a hearing on a petition for attorney fees filed on behalf of Debra. The court granted the petition and ordered Jon to contribute to Debra's attorney fees in the amount of $4,250.

On February 8, 1999, Debra's attorney filed a motion to enter a proposed QDRO. It appears that Jon filed a counterpetition to enter his own proposed QDRO. We state "appears" because although Jon's counterpetition is not in the record, it is referenced in a hearing conducted on June 14, 1999, and in a court order dated April 14, 1999. At the June 14, 1999, hearing, the circuit court noted that at an April 14, 1999, hearing Jon argued *fn1 that the circuit court erred in accepting the parties' stipulation with respect to the valuation of Jon's pension plan. The court also noted that Jon subsequently withdrew his argument regarding the court's erring in accepting the valuation. Nevertheless, the court chose to rule on the issue rejecting Jon's argument and entering Debra's proposed QDRO.

On July 7, 1999, Jon filed a motion to reconsider and modify the judgment. Jon argued, inter alia, that Mr. Epstein "erroneously applied an Illinois based immediate offset approach" to determine the present value of Jon's pension plan resulting in Debra obtaining a share of the plan in excess of the circuit court's judgment. Jon subsequently filed a motion to dismiss his prior motion to reconsider and modify the judgment, which was granted on September 10, 1999. Meanwhile, on July 12, 1999, Charlotte Schipper, QDRO administrator of IPERS, informed the parties that the QDRO submitted on June 22, 1999, was rejected because it did not comply with the provisions of the IPERS plan.

On March 20, 2000, Debra's attorney filed a motion to enter an amended QDRO. The amended QDRO contained the following formula for IPERS to implement in distributing to Debra her half of the marital portion of Jon's pension plan: "50% of the gross monthly or lump sum benefit payable at the date of distribution to the Member multiplied by the 'service factor.' The numerator of the service factor is 66.48(quarters); and the denominator is the Member's total quarters of service covered by IPERS." *fn2 On April 10, 2000, Jon filed a "Motion to Deny Motion to Enter QDRO," arguing that the amended QDRO "may be fruit from a poisonous tree," "lacks integrity" and "contains segments that do not comply with 735 ILCS 5/503 and ordinary common sense."

On July 18, 2000, the circuit court granted Debra's motion for entry of the amended QDRO. The court also granted Debra's motion for postjudgment attorney fees and ordered Jon to pay $1,046.20 to Debra's trial attorney. This appeal followed.

ANALYSIS

Initially, we address Debra's motion to strike Jon's brief and dismiss his appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 341 (177 Ill. 2d R. 341) and 342 (155 Ill. 2d R. 342). Jon filed an objection and we ordered the motion be taken with the case. We note that most of the deficiencies in respondent's brief of which Debra complains were remedied on February 19, 2002, when Jon filed a supplemental record containing missing trial transcripts. We do agree with Debra, however, that some of the commentary in Jon's "statement of facts" section is argumentative and unsupported by the record in violation of Supreme Court Rule 341(e)(6). 177 Ill. 2d R. 341(e)(6). Nevertheless, we deny Debra's motion to strike Jon's brief and dismiss his appeal. Suffice it to say, that although we are denying Debra's motion, we will consider only those parts of Jon's "statement of facts" that are proper. ...


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