Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
In re MARRIAGE OF ELLEN JORDAN REIDY, Petitioner-Appellee, and JOHN P. REIDY, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 13 D 8084 Honorable
Debra B. Walker and James P. Flannery, Judges Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices Pucinski and Walker concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 This case arises out of the dissolution of
petitioner-appellee Ellen Jordan Reidy and
respondent-appellant John P. Reidy's 26-year marriage.
Ellen filed a petition for dissolution in September 2013.
Over two years later and after the dissolution petition had
been set for trial, John filed a counterpetition for legal
separation in the domestic relations division of the circuit
court of Cook County along with a complaint in the law
division against Ellen (among others) alleging that the
defendants schemed to divest John of his interest in certain
marital property by placing the property into two trusts.
John's motion to consolidate his law division complaint
into Ellen's dissolution petition was denied, as was his
motion to stay the dissolution proceedings until the law
division suit was resolved or, alternatively, to amend his
counterpetition for legal separation to include his law
2 On appeal, John challenges the rulings on his motions to
consolidate and to amend and also argues that the trial court
erred in granting the petition for dissolution without
apportioning the allegedly misappropriated marital property.
John further argues that the trial court erred in crediting
Ellen for amounts John incurred in attorney fees in excess of
the fees Ellen incurred. Finding no error, we affirm.
4 John and Ellen were married in 1986 and had three adult
emancipated children at the time Ellen petitioned for
dissolution of their marriage on September 11, 2013. At the
time the petition was filed, Ellen was 55 years old and John
was 70. During their almost 30-year marriage, John was a
public school teacher in Chicago, while Ellen founded
American Food Technologies, Inc. (Amfotek), a manufacturer of
sugar-based blended beverages for convenience stores and
quick-service retailers. Ellen also formed Mariah Partners,
LLC (Mariah Partners), the owner of a mixed-use office and
industrial building in Tinley Park, Illinois, where Amfotek
5 On December 15, 2015, following over two years of
discovery, the court set the matter for trial over several
dates in July 2016 and ordered that discovery be closed on
May 13, 2016. On February 26, 2016, John filed a
counterpetition for legal separation. (As a Roman Catholic,
John was opposed to divorce.) One week later, on March 4,
2016, John filed a complaint in the law division seeking
millions of dollars in punitive and compensatory damages from
Ellen and eight additional defendants. The complaint, in six
causes of action, generally alleged a conspiracy between
Ellen and the defendants to illegally transfer marital
property into the John P. Reidy Qualified Personal Residence
Trust (QPRT) and the Ellen J. Reidy Grantor Retained Annuity
Trust (GRAT), both created in 2012, before Ellen filed her
petition for dissolution. According to John, the creation of
the trusts reduced the marital estate and ultimately would
give him a smaller property distribution and maintenance
award in the dissolution proceedings.
6 The corpus of the QPRT was a Naples, Florida, condominium
that John and Ellen purchased in 2006. The buyer named on the
deed and in the purchase documents was John P. Reidy, as
trustee of the John P. Reidy Trust, Amended and Restated,
January 26, 2006. According to John's complaint, the QPRT
stripped him of ownership of the condo and left him with a
10-year life estate at the age of 69. Upon expiration of the
10-year term, the property would pass to Ellen and their
three children. The final draft of the QPRT, which John
alleged he was "tricked" into signing in December
2012, also contained a provision that Ellen would remain a
beneficiary of the trust in the event she and John divorced.
The GRAT contained 30% of Ellen's interest in Amfotek and
39% of her interest in Mariah Partners. John alleged that he
first learned of the existence of the GRAT during discovery
in the dissolution proceedings.
7 On April 13, 2016, the court granted John's petition
for interim and prospective attorney fees and costs, ordering
Ellen to pay John's past due and prospective attorney
fees until further order. The court's order also provided
that all such payments would be deemed advances from the
marital estate. Finally, the court concluded that the
assessment of the interim fee award was "without
prejudice to any final allocation and without prejudice to
any claim or right of either party or counsel."
8 On April 28, 2016, less than two months before trial was
set to begin, John filed a motion to consolidate his law
division complaint into the petition for dissolution, arguing
that consolidation would further judicial economy and avoid
possibly conflicting results. According to John, he filed the
motion to consolidate in both the law division and the
domestic relations division of the circuit court, but the
notice of motion appears only in the electronic docket of the
law division case, not the docket in the dissolution case
pending in the domestic relations division. The motion itself
only bears the stamp of the law division.
9 Pursuant to Cook County Circuit Court General Order No.
12.1, the motion was heard by the law division's
assignment judge, who hears motions for consolidation pending
in different divisions of the trial court. Cook County Cir.
Ct. G.O. 12.1 (Feb. 1, 1964). Ellen and several codefendants
in the law division case opposed the motion on the basis that
they would be prejudiced by the addition of new claims in the
dissolution proceedings and the attendant delay that would
follow in a case that had already been pending for 2½
years. The court agreed and denied John's motion on June
23, 2016. The order denying the motion for consolidation,
while including the caption for the domestic relations case,
appears only in the electronic docket of the law division
10 The next day, on June 24, 2016, John changed his strategy
and filed a motion in the domestic relations division to stay
the dissolution proceedings pending resolution of the law
division complaint or, alternatively, for leave to amend his
counter petition for legal separation to add the claims
asserted in his law division complaint. Again, John cited
reasons of judicial economy and the prevention of conflicting
results as the basis for his motion, while Ellen argued she
would be prejudiced by a delay in the dissolution
proceedings. The court denied John's motion, finding that
John could have sought leave to amend his counterpetition
earlier and that Ellen was entitled to dissolution of their
marriage without further delay.
11 Ellen also filed a motion in limine asking the
court to bar John from introducing allegations contained in
the law division complaint at trial. John, through counsel,
joined in that motion and asked for an agreed order that
prohibited both parties from eliciting evidence or testimony