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In re Marriage of Chez

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

November 26, 2013

In re MARRIAGE OF KATHERINE L. CHEZ, Petitioner-Appellee, and RONALD L. CHEZ, Respondent-Appellant.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, County Department, Domestic Relations Division Nos. 06 D 5490, 06 CH 4412 The Honorable Thomas J. Kelly and William S. Boyd, Judges Presiding.

JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Quinn and Justice Pierce concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

HARRIS, JUSTICE.

¶ 1 Respondent, Ronald L. Chez, appeals the order of the circuit court entering judgment on the dissolution of his marriage to petitioner Katherine L. Chez (now known as Katherine Malkin). On appeal, Ronald contends that the trial court (1) erred in finding that the joint property provision of the parties' premarital agreement was clear and unambiguous, where the agreement was silent on how to apportion costs when distributing joint property upon dissolution of marriage; and (2) abused its discretion in allowing Katherine to testify in contradiction to her prior judicial admissions regarding the parties' Carmel property. For the following reasons, we affirm.

¶ 2 JURISDICTION

¶ 3 The trial court entered the judgment for dissolution of marriage on August 5, 2009. Both parties moved to reconsider which the trial court resolved on October 14, 2009. Ronald filed a motion for sanctions on October 15, 2009, and the trial court entered an order on the motion on January 20, 2012. On February 17, 2012, Ronald filed his notice of appeal. This court has jurisdiction pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 301 and 303 governing appeals from final judgments entered below. Ill. S.Ct. R. 301 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994); R. 303 (eff. May 30, 2008).

¶ 4 BACKGROUND

¶ 5 Ronald and Katherine were married on April 17, 1993. At the time of marriage, Ronald was a successful investor of public and private companies, and Katherine worked as a successful real estate broker. Each had been married before and had children from their prior marriages.

¶ 6 On April 14, 1993, prior to their marriage, Ronald and Katherine entered into a premarital agreement (PMA). The PMA stated that it represented the parties' "desire to fix and determine the rights and claims that will accrue to them, respectively, in the estate and property of the other by reason of their marriage and to accept the provisions hereof in lieu of and in full discharge, settlement and satisfaction of all such rights and claims."

¶ 7 Ronald and Katherine agreed, "[e]xcept as expressly provided otherwise in the following provisions of this Agreement, " that each party "shall control and manage [his or her] Separate property" at his or her own discretion. In the PMA, "Separate property" included:

"(a) The beneficial interests and assets of the respective parties prior to the marriage contemplated under this Agreement, including those listed on the attached Exhibits
'A' and 'B', which beneficial interests and assets constitute the property either now owned by such party or in which such party now has a beneficial interest;
(b) Any property acquired by the respective parties after the marriage contemplated under this Agreement by gift, bequest, devise, descent or exercise of power of appointment, whether or not such acquired property shall be outright or in trust;
(c) The respective parties' non-marital property denominated as such by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Section 503(a) (Ill. Rev. Stat. Ch. 40, ...

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