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In re Marriage of Brown

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

June 15, 2015

In re MARRIAGE OF JEFFREY P. BROWN, Petitioner-Appellant, and KERRI L. BROWN, Respondent-Appellee

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 10-D-75. Honorable David Grounds, Judge, presiding.

For Appellant: David M. Fahrenkamp, Law Offices of David M. Fahrenkamp, Edwardsville, IL.

For Appellee: Kathleen A. Buckley, Bridget T. Buckley, Taliana, Buckley & Asa, Edwardsville, IL.

JUSTICE STEWART delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Moore concurred in the judgment and opinion. Presiding Justice Cates specially concurred, with opinion.

OPINION

STEWART, JUSTICE.

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[¶1] On January 25, 2010, Jeffrey Brown filed a petition for dissolution of marriage from Kerri Brown. The case proceeded to a one-day trial on April 5, 2012. Eleven months later, on March 8, 2013, the court issued its ruling in an order titled " Supplemental Judgment on All Remaining Issues." On April 5, 2013, Kerri filed a timely posttrial motion asking the court to reconsider various issues. On May 13, 2013, the court heard the motion. On January 8, 2014, the court entered its order on posttrial motions. Jeffrey filed a timely notice of appeal. We reverse.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] Jeffrey and Kerri were married in Godfrey, Illinois, on February 14, 1987. The parties adopted two children, C.L.B., born in 2002, and C.M.B., born in 2003.

[¶4] On January 25, 2010, Jeffrey filed a petition for dissolution of marriage from Kerri. On January 29, 2010, the trial court entered an order, by stipulation and agreement of the parties, that both parties were restrained and enjoined from transferring, encumbering, spending, selling, conveying, or alienating any of the marital assets of the parties or nonmarital assets of each party, and from incurring any new indebtedness for which the other party could be held liable, absent written consent of the other party or prior leave of the court.

[¶5] On February 3, 2010, Kerri filed a counterpetition for dissolution of marriage. On March 18, 2010, the parties entered into a stipulated joint parenting agreement. The parties agreed to share joint legal custody of the children with Kerri as the primary residential custodian. The parties agreed that the children would attend Evangelical Children of the Young Years School or an equivalent school unless otherwise agreed.

[¶6] The court entered a temporary order on May 11, 2010. It ordered Jeffrey to pay $1,200 per month in child support commencing May 1, 2010, to pay $500 per month toward the parties' bills, to pay $300 per month toward the children's daycare expenses, and to maintain medical insurance on Kerri and the children. Kerri was allowed to retain the income from the couples' jointly owned frozen custard parlor called " Shivers Frozen Custard" (Shivers). She was ordered to make an accounting of the business showing all income and expenses. Kerri was allowed to retain possession of the couples' rental property and was ordered to pay the mortgage and insurance on the property. The court ordered that the parties' 2010 tax refunds be used to pay all property taxes, and the balance was to be held in escrow. Kerri was allowed to retain possession of the marital home. Kerri was ordered to pay and keep current on the parties' credit cards, first and second mortgages on the marital home, utilities, the children's expenses, and house and life insurances. All other financial issues were reserved.

[¶7] On May 21, 2010, Jeffrey filed a motion to vacate or in the alternative to modify the May 11, 2010, order. He alleged that, due to the inclement weather, his employment had been substantially curtailed making him unable to meet his child support and marital debt obligations. On May 24, 2010, the trial court entered a uniform order for support that mirrored the support terms of the May 11, 2010, order.

[¶8] On July 27, 2010, the trial court entered an order taking Jeffrey's motion to vacate or in the alternative to modify under advisement. It stated that both parties, by agreement, were to consult

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with an attorney within the following three weeks regarding the propriety of filing for bankruptcy. Kerri was ordered to account for the income and expenses of Shivers and the rental property within three weeks from the date of the order.

[¶9] On October 26, 2010, Jeffrey petitioned the court to enter a rule to show cause and citation against Kerri to show cause as to why she should not be held in contempt for failing to account for income and expenses regarding Shivers and the rental property as ordered on July 27, 2010.

[¶10] On October 27, 2010, Jeffrey filed another motion to modify support. He asked the court to modify the support order commensurate with his actual income and ability to pay.

[¶11] On February 1, 2011, Kerri filed a petition to modify. She alleged that since the May 11, 2010, order, she had not received child support, daycare expenses, or the monthly amount toward the parties' bills that Jeffrey was ordered to pay. As a result, she alleged that she was unable to pay the mortgage and insurance payments on the rental property, to pay the credit card payments, to pay the first or second mortgage on the marital residence, to pay the utilities, to pay the children's expenses, or to pay the home and life insurance premiums. She asked the court to order Jeffrey to pay the mortgages, the credit cards, the utilities, the insurance premiums, and the children's expenses. On the same day, she filed a petition for adjudication of indirect civil contempt asking the court to sentence Jeffrey to the Madison County jail until he paid the child support arrearages, the arrearages in the amounts to be paid toward the parties' bills, and the daycare expenses.

[¶12] On February 4, 2011, the court entered an agreed order of temporary modification. Pursuant to the terms of the order, Jeffrey was to pay $1,250 per month for child support beginning February 2011. The order stated that " [t]he parties' court ordered obligations to pay mortgages and bills is modified so that they do not have a court ordered obligation to pay them, including order for Jeff to pay $300 for day care." Kerri was allowed to retain the rental income free of claims of Jeffrey pending a further order. The parties were to contact a bankruptcy attorney. Kerri was to allow Jeffrey access to the Cornerstone Bank accounts.

[¶13] On February 7, 2011, Jeffrey filed a motion to compel compliance with discovery and for the imposition of sanctions for noncompliance. On June 15, 2011, Kerri filed a petition for rule to show cause for Jeffrey's failure to pay child support. On September 22, 2011, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services filed a petition to intervene and a motion to determine child support arrearages.

[¶14] On September 30, 2011, the trial court entered a temporary order requiring Jeffrey to pay $1,250 per month for child support beginning September 1, 2011. The court found that as of August 31, 2011, Jeffrey owed no child support arrearages to Kerri. Jeffrey was ordered to maintain health and dental insurance on the children. The parties were ordered to split all uninsured or nonreimbursed medical, dental, optical, pharmaceutical, and orthodontic expenses. The court entered an order in favor of Kerri and against Jeffrey in the amount of $5,676.94 for unpaid daycare expenses and bills.

[¶15] On October 24, 2011, Jeffrey filed a petition to modify temporary child support. He alleged that Shivers had been foreclosed upon, that the trade in which he had trained had suffered a downturn in the industry, that he was not earning the amount of money he earned at the time

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the order was entered, and that Kerri dissipated business funds and failed to apply them to business debts and accounts depriving the marital business of the necessary capital for operation and causing the foreclosure and sale of the parties' property. Jeffrey asked that the court reduce his child support obligation pursuant to statutory guidelines, assess an obligation against Kerri for dissipation of the marital estate, and relieve him of his obligation to contribute to the children's daycare expenses or Kerri's bills.

[¶16] On December 8, 2011, the court entered an order setting child support. The court found that Jeffrey had a gross income of $536 and a net income of $455 per week. Jeffrey was ordered to pay $128 per week in child support commencing October 21, 2011.

[¶17] On February 23, 2012, Jeffrey filed a petition for adjudication of indirect civil contempt alleging that Kerri had failed to comply with the January 29, 2010, injunctive order restraining the parties from disposing of any of the marital assets. He asserted that she disposed of assets valued at over $15,000. Additionally, he contended that she took the rental income from the marital rental property and failed to pay mortgage payments causing the property to be put in foreclosure.

[¶18] On March 7, 2012, Kerri filed a petition for rule to show cause. She alleged that Jeffrey cancelled her beneficiary status on a life insurance policy that he was ordered not to change on May 11, 2010, in an effort to coerce her into giving him one-half the rental income. She further asserted that Jeffrey stole certain items of personal property.

[¶19] On April 5, 2012, Kerri filed a motion in limine. She asserted that the February 4, 2011, order provided that she was entitled to retain the rental income free from any claim of Jeffrey pending further order and that she did not have a court obligation to pay the mortgage or bills. She argued that introduction into evidence of rental income would not serve any proper purpose in the trial proceedings and would instead provide irrelevant and unfair information that would be ...


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