In re MARRIAGE OF TERI D. SADOVSKY, Petitioner-Appellant, and CLAUDE A. SADOVSKY, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will
County, Illinois Circuit No. 07-D-1518 Honorable David
Garcia, Judge, Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Pamela Davis Gorcowski, of Kavanagh,
Grumley & Gorbold LLC, of Joliet, for appellant.
Attorneys for Appellee: Gwendolyn J. Sterk, of Gwendolyn J.
Sterk and the Family Law Group, P.C., of Orland Park, for
JUSTICE LYTTON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices McDade and Wright concurred in the judgment
1 Petitioner Teri D. Sadovsky appeals from an order of the
circuit court granting respondent Claude A. Sadovsky's
request to terminate maintenance pursuant to section 510 of
the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act
(Marriage Act) (750 ILCS 5/510 (West 2016)). The trial court
determined that Claude's decision to retire from his job
as an emergency room physician was made in good faith and
reduced his maintenance obligation to zero. On appeal, Teri
claims that (1) the trial court's decision to set
maintenance at zero was an abuse of discretion because it
failed to consider all the statutory factors and (2) a new
trial is warranted based on numerous evidentiary errors. She
also appeals the denial of her petition for contribution of
attorney fees and costs. We find that the trial court abused
its discretion in barring the use of a properly disclosed
report, striking the testimony of Teri's expert
witnesses, and refusing to allow Teri to testify as to her
lifestyle during the marriage. We reverse and remand for a
new trial on the petition to terminate maintenance and affirm
the denial of the petition for fees and costs.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 Claude and Teri married in May of 1982. In 2007, Teri filed
a petition for dissolution of marriage, and judgment was
entered in March 2009. At the time of the parties'
divorce, Claude was employed as an emergency room physician.
His yearly income for the three years before trial exceeded
$275, 000. Teri had a degree in finance but had not worked
outside the home in 25 years. She left her job as an
administrative assistant when the parties had their first
child. After that, she stayed at home with their two children
and was the primary caretaker. At the time of dissolution,
both children were adults. In the dissolution judgment, the
trial court found that the parties enjoyed a comfortable
lifestyle and that Teri required $8000 per month in
maintenance to maintain that standard of living. The court
awarded Teri 58% of the total marital assets and awarded
4 In April of 2011, Teri began full-time work as a paralegal.
Claude then filed a motion to reduce maintenance. The trial
court granted the motion and reduced his maintenance to $6500
5 In November 2014, Claude filed a petition to terminate
maintenance, in which he alleged that by virtue of his
profession as an emergency room doctor he suffered extreme
stress and that he intended to end his employment on December
20, 2014. He requested that his maintenance obligation be
terminated or, in the alternative, reduced.
6 In 2017, shortly before trial, both parties filed financial
affidavits with the court. Teri's financial affidavit
stated that her gross yearly income was $39, 225. She listed
her net monthly income as $2150 and total monthly living
expenses as $7698. She did not list any outstanding debts.
Claude also filed a financial affidavit in which he listed
his earned income for 2017 as $0 and his gross monthly income
from retirement accounts and rental income as $2212. He
reported a net monthly income of $2128 and monthly living
expenses of $6594. His affidavit included a list of bank and
credit card debts totaling $4000.
7 At trial, Claude testified that he began working as an
emergency room doctor in 1985 and had worked at various
hospitals throughout his career. At age 57, he decided to
retire because he did not enjoy working anymore. Claude
stated that he felt stress on the job because he had been
sued for medical malpractice several times. In late 2011, the
hospital contracted with a new physician's group, and
Claude was subject to patient evaluations. He scored poorly
on the evaluations.
8 Beginning in 2011, Claude suffered physical symptoms
resulting from the stress and anxiety of his job, including
abdominal discomfort, irritable bowel, diarrhea, and visual
abnormalities. He did not seek immediate treatment for his
condition. He tried to relieve the stress through
over-the-counter medications and exercise. He also tried to
change his shifts and work at other company-owned hospitals.
Although he was aware that taking anxiety medications could
reduce the physical symptoms of stress, he resisted taking
them because he believed they would compromise his ability to
9 In the fall of 2011, Claude started working as a full-time
emergency room physician in Mattoon, Illinois, where he
worked until the end of 2014. From January 2014 to August
2014, he worked at another hospital in Belleville that
allowed compressed shifts. In the fall of 2014, Claude began
making more mistakes. Between July and November 2014, Claude
had four malpractice complaints made against him. Finally, in
December 2014, he retired. Shortly after he retired, his
physical symptoms relating to anxiety subsided. He stated
that he stopped making monthly maintenance payments on
December 31, 2014.
10 Claude testified that, as of July 2017, he had a
retirement account worth $1, 207, 000. He also had a security
benefit annuity with a cash value of $295, 238, and a
nonretirement investment account worth $286, 592. In
addition, he owned three properties in Hawaii; one is his
residence, valued at $535, 000, and two are rental
properties. His net assets listed on his 2017 financial
disclosure totaled $1, 870, 433.
11 From 2012 to 2014, Claude was the sole member of an S
corporation. The corporation made deposits into Claude's
retirement account and then paid his salary. An offer of
proof showed that the corporation had total receipts in 2013
of $915, 024 and had no employees except Claude. In 2014, the
gross receipts of the S corporation totaled $867, 276. The
corporation was dissolved near the end of 2014. Claude
objected to the evidence based on relevance, and the trial
court granted his request, refusing to consider the corporate
tax returns from 2012 through 2014.
12 Teri testified that she was not working outside of the
home at the time of the divorce but began working as a
paralegal for a law firm in 2011. Her gross income in 2016
was $39, 225. Her employer does not pay for health insurance.
According to Teri's 2017 financial affidavit, her gross
assets are worth $1, 616, 887, which includes the marital
residence valued at $285, 000. Most of her assets are
retirement benefits and deferred compensation accounts. She
does not withdraw any money from any of her retirement
accounts to pay living expenses because she would be
penalized for early withdrawals. Her 2017 financial affidavit
also disclosed a bank account with a balance of $162, 261.
She testified that she uses the funds in that account to help
pay her medical insurance and living expenses.Teri stated
that her earnings alone do not allow her to maintain and
sustain herself. When Teri was asked by her counsel to
describe the standard of living she had enjoyed during the
last 15 years of her marriage, Claude objected, and the trial
court sustained the objection.
13 Dr. Kevin Klauer, an expert witness for Claude, testified
that emergency medicine doctors have the highest level of
burnout in the medical profession. He stated that not many
doctors stay in the specialty of emergency medicine after the
age of 55. He noted that a doctor having four malpractice
claims in five months is a concerning trend. Klauer testified
that it was reasonable for Claude to step down from emergency
room medicine after 32 years, given the malpractice history
and the mistakes he was making.
14 Dr. Elbert Lee, a psychiatrist at Sarah Bush Lincoln
Hospital, testified that he first saw Claude as a patient in
October of 2014. Claude sought his help due to worsening
anxiety, depressive symptoms, and stressors at work. Lee
explained that Claude felt an undue amount of stress at work
and was physically and mentally worn out. He diagnosed Claude
as having generalized anxiety disorder, not otherwise
specified, and recommended that Claude retire.
15 Dr. Doris Van Byssum, a licensed clinical psychologist,
testified as an expert for Teri. She interviewed Claude over
Skype on September 30, 2016, and administered a test by
asking questions. She also reviewed Dr. Lee's records. At
trial, Van Byssum concluded that Claude was not suffering
from any mental health issues. She admitted that the
stressors that existed in 2014 were not present in 2016 when
she conducted her interview. Teri's counsel then asked
Van Byssum whether, "within a reasonable degree of
medical certainty," she found any psychiatric basis that
prevented Claude from returning to work. Claude objected,
arguing that Van Byssum's disclosed ...