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In re Marriage of Pratt

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

August 12, 2014

In re MARRIAGE OF, SHARON PRATT, Petitioner-Appellee, and MURRAY PRATT, Respondent-Appellant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 680

As Corrected.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 04 D 12105. Honorable Patricia Logue, Judge Presiding.

Paul J. Bargiel, of counsel, Paul J. Bargiel, P.C., Chicago, IL; M. Scott Gordon, Dayna L. Perlut, of counsel, M. Scott Gordon & Associates, Skokie, IL, for Appellant.

Joel Ostrow, Bannockburn, IL, for Appellee.

PRESIDING JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Simon and Liu concurred in the judgment and opinion.


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[¶1] Respondent, Murray Pratt, appeals the order of the circuit court modifying his child support payments to $4,697 per month and awarding petitioner, Sharon Pratt, attorney fees in the amount of $25,000. On appeal, Murray contends the trial court erred in modifying his child support payments because (1) it made errors in calculating Murray's income for support purposes; and (2) it failed to consider Sharon's obligation to support the children as well as the financial impact of her new husband living in her household. Murray also contends that the trial court's award of attorney fees to Sharon was an abuse of discretion because she failed to prove her inability to pay for such fees. For the following reasons, we affirm.


[¶3] The trial court entered its order modifying child support payments pursuant to the judgment for dissolution of marriage on February 10, 2012. Sharon filed her motion to reconsider on March 9, 2012, and the trial court entered its amended order on July 16, 2012. On August 15, 2012, Murray filed a motion to vacate or reconsider the amended order which the trial court denied on January 15, 2013. On January 10, 2013, the trial court entered its order awarding attorney fees to Sharon. Murray filed his notice of appeal on February 6, 2013. Accordingly, 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).


[¶5] The parties were married on August 13, 1988. They had four children during the marriage: Kevin, born October 10, 1991; Brian, born November 9, 1993; Melissa, born November 13, 1996; and Heather, born September 11, 1998. The trial court entered a judgment for the dissolution of marriage on February 2, 2007, into which the parties' marital settlement agreement (MSA) was incorporated. The MSA provided that Murray would pay unallocated maintenance and family support in the amount of $4,400 per month for 48 months, after which time Sharon's right to receive unallocated maintenance and family support would terminate. Additionally, Murray would pay Sharon 50% of the gross of any bonus he received minus withholding for Medicare. The MSA further provided that " [a]ll unallocated maintenance and family support payments shall

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terminate earlier and immediately in the event of SHARON's death, remarriage, or co-habitation on a continuing resident conjugal basis and upon MURRAY's death." The MSA also contained a provision stating that " [a]ll restricted stock and stock options awarded to Murray or Sharon as an award of his/her share of the marital estate *** shall not be deemed income for child support purposes."

[¶6] The parties agreed that Kevin, who has special needs, would live with Murray and the other three children would live primarily with Sharon and stay with Murray one-third of the time. The MSA set forth the amount of support which was based, in part, on Murray's anticipated gross income from his employment at Kraft Foods Incorporated (Kraft) of $172,478 (which includes base pay plus bonus), and Sharon's earned income from self-employment in 2006 of $23,618. The parties also agreed to distribute property as follows: Murray received all benefits of his employment with Kraft, his checking account at Glenview State Bank, his nonmarital retirement assets and 50% of his marital retirement assets including (1) 67.5% of his 401(k) plan at Kraft; (2) 100% of his Vanguard individual retirement account (IRA); (3) the remainder of his Kraft defined benefit pension plan after Sharon received 50% of the marital portion; (4) 40% of the Altria stock options; (5) 40% of the Kraft restricted stock options; (6) his 2005 Toyota Sienna; and (7) the residence at 2508 Violet Boulevard in Glenview, Illinois.

[¶7] Sharon received Glenview State Bank checking and money market accounts, and her non-marital retirement assets and 50% of her marital retirement assets including (1) 100% of her IBM 401(k); (2) 100% of her IBM retirement plan; (3) 100% of her Vanguard IRA account; (4) 32.5% of Murray's 401(k) thrift plan; (5) 50% of Murray's accrued benefits in the Kraft defined benefit pension; (6) 60% of the net proceeds resulting from Murray's exercise of Altria and Kraft stock options; (7) the 1998 Toyota Sienna; (8) the residence at 1417 Plymouth Lane in Glenview, Illinois; and (9) hotel and airline mileage. Furthermore, since Sharon received 60% of the equity in the parties' real estate and automobiles, the MSA provided that she " shall pay to Murray the sum of $137,154.98 within sixty (60) days of the entry of the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage." In order to pay this sum, Sharon directed Murray to sell her share of the restricted stock and stock options, which amounted to $207,000. As a result of selling those shares, Murray's income increased in 2007, which put him in a higher tax bracket.

[¶8] Each party agreed to take responsibility for his or her own debts and obligations from the time of their separation on July 22, 2005. Each party also waived the right to seek contribution for attorney fees and costs under sections 503(j) and 508(a) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Act) (750 ILCS 5/503(j), 508(a) (West 2010)).

[¶9] On May 19, 2010, Sharon filed a motion to modify the judgment for dissolution of marriage and for other relief. In her motion, Sharon requested that the trial court (1) set guideline child support; (2) modify Murray's obligation to require him to pay all of the minor children's uninsured health-related expenses; (3) modify the judgment to require Murray to pay all of the curricular and extracurricular expenses, summer-related expenses, cell phone bills and other expenses; and (4) provide any other relief deemed appropriate. Sharon also ...

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