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In re Marriage of Menken

October 03, 2002

IN RE MARRIAGE OF TARA MENKEN, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND GEORGE MENKEN, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 99-D-0174 Honorable Steven L. Nordquist, Judge, Presiding.

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

Released for publication October 8, 2002.

IN RE MARRIAGE OF TARA MENKEN, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND GEORGE MENKEN, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 99-D-0174 Honorable Steven L. Nordquist, Judge, Presiding.

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

PUBLISH

After a trial, the trial court dissolved the marriage of petitioner, Tara Menken, and respondent, George Menken, awarded maintenance and child support, and divided the marital assets. The court awarded petitioner, among other things, 60% of the retirement benefits respondent earned as a member of the Rockford police department. On appeal, respondent contends that the trial court lacked the authority to order him to sign a consent form authorizing petitioner to receive the retirement benefits directly pursuant to a qualified Illinois domestic relations order (QILDRO). See 40 ILCS 5/1--119(b)(1) (West 2000). We vacate the order requiring respondent to sign the consent form and affirm in all other respects.

The parties were married on August 4, 1973. Respondent had been a member of the Rockford police department since January 1977 and participated in the Rockford Police Pension Fund. At the time of the trial, the value of respondent's pension was approximately $2,250 per month.

On December 5, 2000, the trial court issued its memorandum decision awarding petitioner "60% of [respondent's] retirement benefits, which is $1,350.00 per month, *** to be distributed to [petitioner] pursuant to a QILDRO providing [respondent] agrees to sign an appropriate consent form, however, this is continued *** for further hearing." In the portion of the memorandum decision addressing attorney fees, the court stated:

"Should [respondent] agree to sign the appropriate consent to distribute his pension pursuant to a QILDRO, the Court may not order [respondent] to pay [petitioner's] entire attorneys fees and costs, and instead may or may not order [respondent] to contribute any sums to [petitioner.] However, should [respondent] refuse to sign said consent, the Court may order [respondent] to pay all of [petitioner's] attorneys fees as determined by the hearing to be reasonable and customary within the community." (Emphasis in original.)

During a hearing on February 1, 2001, respondent's counsel indicated that respondent had decided not to sign a QILDRO consent form.

On February 15, 2001, the trial court entered a judgment dissolving the parties' marriage, awarding maintenance and child support, and dividing the marital property in accordance with the findings in the memorandum decision. Also on that date, the court conducted a hearing and awarded petitioner $6,500 towards her attorney fees and ordered respondent to pay petitioner, upon his retirement and within 10 days of receiving his monthly pension benefits, $1,350 per month.

On March 14, 2001, respondent moved to reconsider the trial court's attorney fees award. Respondent asserted that the fee award was not based on the proper statutory factors but instead was ...


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