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In Re: the Marriage of Vicki Bradley

December 6, 2011


Appeal from Circuit Court of Adams County No. 09D102 Honorable Mark A. Drummond, Judge Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McCULLOUGH


JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

¶ 1 On April 3, 2009, petitioner, Vicki Bradley, petitioned for dissolution of her marriage to respondent, Bobby Ray Bradley. On April 12, 2011, the trial court entered a judgment dissolving the marriage, addressing issues of property distribution and maintenance.

¶ 2 Bobby appeals, arguing (1) the trial court erred by barring his claim that a farm was non-marital property (2) the trial court erred in the amount it awarded Vicki for her attorney fees, (3) the trial court's maintenance award of $250 per week was an abuse of discretion, (4) the trial court erred in determining Bobby's net income and setting his child support obligation, and (5) the trial court erred in finding a payable on death account was marital property. We affirm.

¶ 3 Bobby and Vicki were married on November 28, 1992. Two children were born during the marriage, Denver (September 17, 1993) and Sierra (November 15, 1995). On April 3, 2009, Vicki filed a petition for dissolution of marriage.

¶ 4 On July 30, 2009, the trial court ordered pretrial affidavits to be filed on or before November 12, 2009, and set a trial date of November 20, 2009. The affidavits were to identify all contested issues and address marital and non-marital property and its value.

¶ 5 On August 5, 2009, Vicki filed a motion to compel, stating Bobby "failed to respond to the Interrogatories with regard to real estate" and seeking attorney fees and costs against Bobby. On August 13, 2009, the trial court ordered discovery to be completed within seven days and also on August 13, 2009, Bobby filed a certificate stating he forwarded to Vicki's counsel the answer to interrogatories and compliance with request for production on that same day.

¶ 6 On August 20, 2009, the trial court entered an order stating "[n]either party shall sell, convey, dispose of, hide, mortgage, give away, hide, transfer or allow assets to be transferred to any third party pending this proceeding." (Emphasis in original.)

¶ 7 Vicki filed her pretrial memorandum on November 17, 2009. She had recently secured part-time employment earning minimum wage. Bobby worked as a lineman with gross earnings of $55,995.91, as of July 4, 2009. According to Vicki, the parties owned a home in Quincy, Illinois, and a farm in Missouri. Bobby also filed a pretrial affidavit on November 17, 2009. He worked as a lineman. "He also rents farmland and farms on a part time basis." Bobby identified the home in Quincy, Illinois, as marital property but did not reference a farm in Missouri.

¶ 8 At the hearing on November 20, 2009, Vicki advised the trial court that Bobby failed to identify in his answer to interrogatories and pretrial affidavit substantial acreage he owned in Missouri. Vicki was told by another individual, approximately two weeks earlier, that Bobby owned the Missouri farm. Bobby advised the court that the property belonged to his mother and he did not know the property had been deeded to him. Bobby stated he did not pay his mother for the property. The court continued the matter for additional discovery, stating:

"I'll reserve the issue of sanctions and fees. I'll reserve the issue of false pleadings on the pretrial affidavit. Mr. Timmerwilke says he had no idea concerning this, and I have to, at this point, take him at his word, but the bottom line is his client signed this attesting to the facts, and he will have to show that he had absolutely no idea that his mother, back in 2005, had deeded a farm to him."

¶ 9 On January 20, 2010, Bobby filed a supplement to his pretrial affidavit stating he claimed the 118-acre farm as his non-marital property, "being a gift from his mother." Further, Bobby stated the property had been appraised at $133,600.

¶ 10 On April 30, 2010, Bobby filed an amended supplement to his pretrial affidavit claiming a "final structured settlement payment of $90,000 as non-marital from an accident which he had in 1983 which was settled in 1985." Bobby stated that a portion of the settlement proceeds were given to his mother "as partial consideration for the farm." According to Bobby, "[t]he farm was provided at a great discount."

¶ 11 On May 10, 2010, Bobby filed a second amended supplement to his pretrial affidavit attaching "the settlement annuity from his 1983 accident as his claimed non-marital property." On May 21, 2010, Bobby filed his third amended supplement to his pretrial affidavit attaching a warranty deed and photographs of a property he alleged Vicki gave a family member in 2003, for "no consideration."

¶ 12 The trial court heard evidence on May 5, 2010, May 24, 2010, and June 14, 2010. Bobby, age 51 at the time of the May 2010 hearings, worked as a lineman. An April 30, 2010, pay stub showed Bobby earned approximately $29,427, through April 24, 2010. "He also rents farmland and farms on a part time basis." Vicki, age 46, completed two years of college approximately 20 years ago, and presently works as a receptionist with gross earnings of approximately $320 per week.

On November 18, 2010, the trial court entered an order stating, in part:

"The bottom line is that the Respondent lied in this case and lied more than once. Boiled down to its simplicity, the Respondent's argument to this court is, 'O.K., she caught me, make me pay some of her fees.' If courts adopt this rather simplistic approach to lying, then lying to gain an advantage just becomes an economic equation. If the stakes far exceed the potential fees, then telling the truth simply becomes a cost/benefit analysis."

¶ 13 Based upon the "facts and the applicable law," the trial court adopted Vicki's "written proposal for distribution" finding her requests "fair and equitable" and "not overreaching." The court ordered Bobby to pay $6,023 of Vicki's attorney fees, biweekly child support in the amount of $750, and maintenance in the amount of $250 per week.

¶ 14 On January 6, 2011, Bobby filed a motion for clarification of the trial court's order entered on November 18, 2010. On March 25, 2011, the trial court entered an order awarding Bobby "the 118 acres in Missouri and, as a sanction under Supreme Court Rule 219(c), bars his claim that this land is non-marital and values that land at $227,000." The court set forth the following in support of the sanction:

"It is more accurate to state that the court, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 219(c)(iii), is barring the Father [(Bobby)] from maintaining his claim that it is non-marital. It appears to this court that the $36,000 paid for the farmland was from a non-marital source, being a personal injury claim which accrued before the marriage, that the Father segregated the funds, that no marital funds were commingled in the Father's separate account and that the total price was paid from these funds. The Father finds himself in this position due to the following chronology:

May 13, 2005 Property purchased by check signed by Father in the amount of $36,000.00 payable to his mother and memo on check reads '120 AC. Homeplace' 2005 forward Real estate taxes on 118 acres paid by Father 2006 forward Expenses on 118 acres appear on Father's joint tax returns with Mother April 3, 2009 Petition for dissolution of marriage filed.

August 10, 2009 Father answers Interrogatories, under oath, and does not reveal the 118 acres in response to Interrogatory #9 requesting a listing of all real estate in which he has an interest nor Inter-rogatory #8 where he is asked to list all property, real or personal, that he claims as non-marital.

November 17, 2009 Files Pretrial Affidavit, under oath, and does not list the 118 acres under either marital or non-marital property.

November 20, 2009 Sat next to attorney in court while attorney made the following statements to the court: '... he did not see the deed from his mother.' 'He did not----he did not see the deed.' 'So, he had not had knowledge that this property had been deeded.' 'He did not know about it through the lawyers.' 'And, judge, for the record, I want to state, he has not paid any consideration for ...

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