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In re Marriage of Zweig

October 17, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 97-D-387 Honorable Ralph J. Mendelsohn, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kuehn


Lillian Carlyene Zweig appeals from the trial court's orders of January 10, 2002, and November 1, 2002, which distributed the marital property and denied a motion to reconsider that distribution. We affirm.

Lillian Carlyene Zweig (Carlyene) and Henry Eugene Zweig, Sr. (Gene), took their marital vows on July 21, 1954. They had four children during the marriage, three of which still survive.

Carlyene was a homemaker until their youngest child was three. At that time she entered the workforce-in about 1964. She worked in an accounting department and later as a bank teller. She worked until sometime shortly after August 1991.

Gene began work as a truck driver for Missouri Pacific Truck Lines at the end of January 1968. On August 2, 1991, when he was loading a piggyback trailer on a railroad car, a stanchion fell, causing Gene to fall. The fall resulted in a fracture of Gene's neck at the C5-6 level and rendered him a quadriplegic. He remained hospitalized for five months. During this time, Carlyene quit her bank job in order to be able to take care of her husband.

Immediately after Gene's injury, Carlyene obtained a power of attorney so that she could access and assert control over investment accounts held solely in Gene's name. For reasons not entirely clear from the record, Carlyene took it upon herself in November 1993 to try to secure control over Gene's estate through a court process in which she sought to have him declared incompetent. This attempt was unsuccessful. Gene filed a request for an order of protection, which was granted. The order of protection prevented Carlyene from interfering with his personal liberty and controlling his person and assets. At the trial of this case, Carlyene denied ever having filed such an action, but she was impeached with the documentary proof.

Four years later, Gene finally was paid for his personal injury claims, in the amount of $1,744,843.15.

Gene testified that before he received his settlement, as a result of his various disability payments, his stream of monthly income was $4,120. The sources of this amount were benefits from workers' compensation, social security disability, employment pension, and Veterans' Administration disability. What we do not know is how long it took after his accident to reach this level of income and whether he went without income for a period of time immediately following his accident.

After Carlyene obtained control of Gene's investment assets, she liquidated them, transferred the money into accounts bearing only her name, and then ultimately purchased treasury bills. Interest on these treasury bills was credited to Carlyene's account. She did not discuss any of these financial matters with Gene, who had no idea that his investment accounts had been liquidated. The monetary total of the investment accounts prior to their liquidation was $235,496. Additionally, Carlyene liquidated her own 401(k) account, which contained $23,945. For the five years following this liquidation, Carlyene received interest payments totaling $13,000 annually. When Gene requested financial information during this time, Carlyene informed him that these matters were none of his concern.

That money is gone. The only accounting Carlyene provided the court was that she utilized all the funds for household expenses. She did not provide line item entries describing the precise distribution of these funds. Generally, she simply claims to have utilized all the funds to keep the household running and to pay medical expenses. During court arguments, her attorney opined that the money could have been utilized to finance the numerous cruises they took subsequent to Gene's accident. However, there was no evidence introduced at the trial relative to cruise expenses. Gene testified that he had a difficult time believing this claim because he had the $4,120 monthly income, which was an amount substantially in excess of the total household income prior to his accident, because his medical bills were then being paid in full through workers' compensation benefits, and because the Zweigs had no house payment, no car payments, and no credit card payments.

At some time after the accident, Gene and Carlyene ceased living together as husband and wife, although they remained in the same residence.

On April 11, 1997, Carlyene filed a petition seeking a dissolution of the marriage. A reconciliation attempt occurred in 1997 or 1998, at which time Carlyene sold marital furniture in anticipation of a marital residence move to Arizona. That attempt failed, and the parties renewed their interest in obtaining a divorce.

Carlyene continued to live in the marital residence until October or November 1999. Carlyene moved to Waterloo, Illinois, planning to reside with a daughter, but she ended up only living with her daughter for approximately one week. She moved from her daughter's home into the home of a male friend, with whom she had developed a personal relationship allegedly within that one week. She contributes $1,600 per ...

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