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In re Marriage of Platt

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

November 6, 2015

In re MARRIAGE OF FREDERICK H. PLATT, JR., Petitioner, and MELISSA A. PLATT, Respondent and Third-Party Petitioner-Appellant Stacy Hux, Third-Party Respondent-Appellee

          Appeal from the Circuit Court PLATT, JR., of Lake County, No. 11-D-837. Honorable Patricia S. Fix, Judge, Presiding.

         Denis J. McKeown and Joseph C. McKeown, both of Denis J. McKeown & Associates, of Waukegan, for appellant.

         Dwayne Douglas, of Law Offices of Dwayne Douglas, P.C., of Lake Bluff, for appellee.

         JUSTICE SPENCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Schostok and Justice Zenoff concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

Page 260

          SPENCE, JUSTICE.

          [¶1] Melissa A. Platt appeals from an order denying a motion in which she sought enforcement of the pension provisions of the marital settlement agreement (MSA) that was part of the dissolution judgment ending her marriage to Frederick H. Platt, Jr. Specifically, her motion sought entry of a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). Third-party respondent Stacy Hux, Frederick's surviving spouse, moved to " dismiss" the motion on the basis that Frederick's death had stripped the court of jurisdiction over the matter. Stacy now argues that, because the court neither explicitly bifurcated the action nor reserved the issue of entry of a QDRO, at Frederick's death no final dissolution judgment existed and the dissolution action therefore abated. We hold that the dissolution judgment was final and enforceable despite the absence of the QDRO needed to effect the pension distribution, and thus we hold that Melissa was entitled to enforce the MSA. We therefore reverse the denial of Melissa's motion and remand the matter for enforcement of the MSA's pension provisions by appropriate available means.

         [¶2] I. BACKGROUND

          [¶3] Frederick filed his petition for the dissolution of the marriage on April 21, 2011, and Melissa responded. On October 31, 2012, Melissa filed a petition seeking to join Stacy, with whom Frederick was then living, as a party. The petition noted that, on October 5, 2012, Frederick had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident and was disabled. Stacy agreed to be joined and filed her appearance on December 5, 2012.

          [¶4] On January 24, 2013, a motion filed by Melissa noted that, in a separate case, the court had appointed temporary guardians of Frederick's estate and person. The court entered the judgment for dissolution of marriage on April 3, 2013. This incorporated the MSA, which provided that the parties would equally divide the marital portion of Frederick's United States government pensions. Further, Frederick would act to cause the filing of all documents or orders needed to accomplish that result; in other words, he would cooperate in the drafting and filing of a QDRO. The dissolution judgment contained a finding of immediate enforceability and appealability under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010).

          [¶5] On September 16, 2014, Melissa filed an " Emergency Motion to Enter a Federal Employee's Retirement Order Pursuant to 5 CFR Section 838." She stated that Frederick had died in a skydiving accident, but that the parties had not yet completed the paperwork necessary to have Frederick's pensions divided as required by the MSA. She alleged that, absent the order,

Page 261

Stacy, who had married Frederick, would be treated as Frederick's surviving spouse in the pension distribution.

          [¶6] Stacy moved to " dismiss" the motion under section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2014)). She asserted that, because Frederick was dead, the court lacked personal jurisdiction over him and thus could not order the relevant modification to the distribution of his pensions. She further asserted that the court could not issue any orders to the relevant federal agency. Finally, she asserted that, because ...


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