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In Re: the Marriage of

March 22, 2013

IN RE: THE MARRIAGE OF
JILL ANNE PRICE,
PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
AND
MELVIN LEE PRICE, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Vermilion County No. 07D361 Honorable Karen E. Wall, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

Carla Bender 4th District Appellate Court, IL

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Steigman and Justice Turner concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 On June 13, 2011, the trial court entered an order dissolving the marriage of petitioner, Jill Anne Price, and respondent, Melvin Lee Price. All other issues were reserved. At a later hearing on pending issues, the court heard evidence and the parties submitted financial affidavits and final written arguments. The court took the matter under advisement. On July 20, 2011, Jill filed a petition for contribution to attorney fees and costs. On August 24, 2011, the court conducted a hearing on Jill's petition for contribution and took the matter under advisement. On October 18, 2011, the court entered its supplemental order to the judgment of dissolution of marriage. This judgment ordered Melvin to pay Jill the following: (1) permanent maintenance in the amount of $7,500 per month; (2) $15,000 toward her attorney fees; and (3) an equalization payment of $330,275.10 within 90 days.

¶ 2 Melvin appeals, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in (1) awarding Jill permanent maintenance in the amount of $7,500 per month; (2) ordering him to pay $15,000 of Jill's attorney fees; and (3) ordering a $330,275.10 equalization payment to be made within 90 days of the court's judgment.

¶ 3 We affirm.

¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 5 On April 23, 1977, Melvin and Jill were married. Two children were born during the marriage, Kate Elizabeth Thorlton (born October 18, 1978) and Kristina Lee Price (born March 14, 1981). Shortly after they married, Melvin and Jill began residing at a home owned by Melvin's parents located on North Bowman in Danville, Illinois, where the parties remained until 2003, when they moved to a residence on Lewis Road in Danville, Illinois.

¶ 6 Since September 2007, Jill has resided on Fairway Drive in Danville, Illinois. At the time of trial, Jill was 61 years of age (born June 4, 1950). She has a high school education. Following high school graduation, Jill worked as a cashier at Zayres department store. She was later promoted to office manager and then became employee responsible for running the cash office, which she did for approximately 10 years until the parties' first child was born.

¶ 7 Melvin continues to reside at the former marital residence located on Lewis Road in Danville, Illinois. At the time of trial, he was 66 years of age (born January 2, 1945). Prior to marrying Jill, Melvin was employed as a license examiner at the Danville License Bureau and, thereafter, for the State of Illinois as a marshal for prisoners. In 1974, 1975, or 1976, Melvin and his uncle started their own construction company, Pri-den. Melvin's uncle later retired and Melvin bought out his share and renamed the business Mel Price Company.

¶ 8 Prior to their first child, Jill worked full-time at Zayres, maintained the household, took care of Melvin's daughter from a prior marriage, and worked part-time doing invoicing and answering phones for the construction business. Jill terminated her employment at Zayres one week before their first child was born (1978). Following the birth of their second child, Jill was primarily a homemaker, but she continued to work part-time for the construction business until 1984.

¶ 9 In 1984, Jill and Melvin incorporated the construction business as Mel Price Company, Inc. Jill and Melvin were each made 50% shareholders and named as officers and directors. Jill began working full-time in this business as well as continuing to run the household. During this same year, Jill and Melvin purchased another business, which they named Sand Valley Sand and Gravel, engaged in hauling and delivering sand and gravel. They incorporated this business in 2002, and Jill and Melvin were each made 50% shareholders and named as officers and directors. In 2002, 2003, or 2004, Jill and Melvin began operating a third business, Mel Price Containers, which leases storage containers to various business. Mel Price Containers is a sole proprietorship.

¶ 10 Jill continued working full-time for the parties' three businesses until June 2007 at which time she was receiving a yearly salary of $62,000. She also had company benefits, including health insurance, a company phone, a company vehicle, and a simplified employee pension plan matched by the business. Since ceasing to work at the parties' businesses, Jill has not attempted to secure employment elsewhere.

¶ 11 During their marriage, the parties accumulated several pieces of real estate. In 1997, they bought a condominium in Fort Myers, Florida, which was sold in 2001. In 1999, they purchased a second condominium in Pine Island, Florida, which was sold in 2002 or 2003. The proceeds from the sale of these two properties were invested in the parties' businesses. The parties also acquired real estate located on Glen Cove Drive in Fort Myers, Florida; on East Voorhees Street in Danville, Illinois; and what is referred to as the McCloud real estate located in Danville, Illinois. Further, Melvin owns a remainder interest in non-marital real estate located on Bowman Avenue in Danville, Illinois.

¶ 12 On December 11, 2007, Jill filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. On June 23, 2008, Jill filed a petition for temporary relief. On August 27, 2008, the trial court entered a temporary relief order. By agreement of the parties, Melvin was ordered to make certain payments for Jill's benefit from the funds of Mel Price Containers. This order also provided Melvin was not to make any payments to himself from the parties' businesses unless he paid Jill the same.

¶ 13 In June and November 2009, Jill filed petitions alleging Melvin was in direct civil contempt of the trial court's temporary relief order. In September 2009, Melvin filed a petition to modify the temporary relief order, requesting he be compensated from the businesses as an employee. Following a February 2010 hearing on these petitions, the trial court found Melvin to be in contempt and issued a purge order in which Melvin was directed to open a personal checking account to pay his personal expenses and was prohibited from using the parties' business accounts or credit cards for personal expenses. This order also provided Melvin could take a salary of $2,000 per week from Sand Valley Sand and Gravel.

¶ 14 In May 2011, Jill filed a petition for a finding of dissipation of marital assets. On June 13, 2011, the trial court entered an order dissolving the marriage while reserving all other issues pending between the parties except for grounds of dissolution. A hearing was conducted between June 13, 2011, and June 24, 2011, on the pending issues during which the parties successfully negotiated some issues and the court heard evidence and the parties submitted financial affidavits and final written arguments on the remaining issues. On June 23, 2011, the trial court filed two separate orders: (1) a stipulation and order on partial division of personal property and (2) a stipulation and order on Jill's petition for finding of dissipation. These two separate orders summarized agreements reached between the parties during negotiations on June 14 and June 15, 2011. The court kept the remaining issues under advisement.

¶ 15 On July 20, 2011, Jill filed a petition for contribution to attorney fees and costs. On August 24, 2011, the trial court conducted a hearing on Jill's petition for contribution and took the matter under advisement.

ΒΆ 16 On October 18, 2011, the trial court entered its supplemental dissolution judgment. This judgment ordered Melvin to pay Jill the following: (1) $7,500 per month in permanent maintenance; (2) $15,000 toward her attorney fees; ...


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