In re Marriage of Wojcik, No. 2-04-1076.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtHutchinson
Citation838 N.E.2d 282
PartiesIn re MARRIAGE OF Karen WOJCIK, Petitioner-Appellee, and Paul Wojcik, Respondent-Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 2-04-1076.
Decision Date04 November 2005

Page 282

838 N.E.2d 282
In re MARRIAGE OF Karen WOJCIK, Petitioner-Appellee, and
Paul Wojcik, Respondent-Appellant.
No. 2-04-1076.
Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District.
November 4, 2005.

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Stephen F. Potts, Law Offices of Stephen F. Potts, Oak Brook, for Paul Wojcik.

Anthony Sammarco, Law Office of William Stogsdill, Jr., Wheaton, for Karen Wojcik.

Justice HUTCHINSON delivered the opinion of the court:


Respondent, Paul Wojcik, appeals from the trial court's judgment dissolving his marriage to petitioner, Karen Wojcik. The trial court awarded 55% of the parties' marital assets to Karen and 45% of those assets to Paul. The trial court also denied Paul's request for an award of maintenance and reserved ruling upon Karen's request for an award of maintenance. On appeal, Paul contends that (1) the trial court's valuation of certain marital assets and its determination of the parties' incomes were against the manifest weight of the evidence; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in finding that Paul's motorcycle was marital property; (3) the trial court erred in considering Paul's receipt of veterans' disability benefits in dividing the marital estate; (4) the trial court abused its discretion in awarding Karen the marital residence and in apportioning the other marital assets; (5) the trial court erred in considering Paul's receipt of veterans' disability benefits when it ruled on his request for maintenance; and (6) the trial court erred in reserving ruling upon Karen's request for maintenance. For reasons that follow, we affirm in part, modify in part, vacate in part, and remand the case for further proceedings.

The parties were married on February 15, 1975. One child, Jeffrey, was born to the marriage in 1984 and is now emancipated. Since their son's birth, the parties resided in the same home in Villa Park. Karen filed her petition for dissolution of marriage on December 2, 2003. Paul filed a counterpetition for dissolution of marriage on December 24, 2003. Each party also petitioned for an award of maintenance. At the time of trial, Karen was 53 years old and Paul was 54 years old.

The following evidence was introduced at trial. Paul served in the military during the Vietnam War between 1970 and 1971. After his discharge from service, Paul graduated from the College of DuPage and began a career in computer processing. In 1986, Paul started his own consulting business, which was called Midwest Software Consultants, Inc. The business was successful and had peak gross earnings in 2001 in excess of $175,000. Following the terrorist attack in New York on September 11, 2001, Paul began to experience heightened panic and encountered difficulties dealing with his business associates. After Paul had an altercation with his largest client, the client canceled its contract, and Midwest Software Consultants, Inc., ceased operations in the summer of 2002. Paul was subsequently diagnosed as suffering

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from post-traumatic stress disorder and received treatment through the United States Veterans Administration (the VA). In January 2003, the VA adjudicated Paul 70% disabled and unemployable. The VA currently pays Paul monthly disability benefits of $4,000.

Karen worked for various employers throughout the parties' marriage. One of her prior employers was Delta Airlines, and Karen receives a $697 monthly pension from that company. At the time of trial, Karen was employed at Elmhurst College, where she worked full time during the academic school year. Karen's annual salary was $19,620. Karen testified that her monthly paycheck deductions for taxes and insurance would decrease from $638.05 to $483.05 once Paul was removed from her coverage as a dependent.

Prior to trial, the parties stipulated to the value of the following marital assets:

 Villa Park Trust & Savings Account 1963867 $ 58,921.76
                 Villa Park Trust & Savings Account 10403103 $ 63,578.21
                 CMA Account 56x-11Q55 $ 33,870.06
                 Charter One Account 8885202818 $ 52,632.01
                 Karen's TIAA-CLEF Retirement Account $ 14,690.29
                 Paul's Merrill Lynch Retirement Account $113,368.37
                 Karen's IRA Account $ 16,269.37
                

The parties also agreed that $28,000 of the funds deposited in Villa Park Trust & Savings account 1963867 were Paul's nonmarital asset. This $28,000 amount represented VA disability benefits that Paul had received since the filing of the dissolution petition. In regard to Villa Park Trust & Savings account 10403103, the parties agreed that certain payments had been made from this account for property taxes and income taxes, thus reducing the account's value to $52,197.54. Both parties also testified that, at the time of trial, the market value of Paul's Merrill Lynch self-employed person (SEP) retirement account had decreased from the stipulated value of $113,368.37 to $92,960. Both parties attributed the decline in value to a downturn in the stock market.

Paul gave testimony concerning other assets that were not a part of the parties' stipulation. Paul testified that the parties jointly owned a 2003 Jeep Cherokee. Paul testified that, according to Edmunds's Used Car Guide, the vehicle had a value of $23,000. Paul also requested that he be awarded his Harley Davidson motorcycle as his nonmarital property. Paul testified that he had purchased the motorcycle in 1999 for $16,000 using money he had inherited from his father in 1998. Paul acknowledged that he deposited his inheritance money in the parties' joint bank account and that the money remained there for several months until he purchased the motorcycle.

Paul also requested the trial court to award him the marital home. Paul testified that he had performed most of the maintenance and repairs on the interior and exterior of the home. Paul designed and helped build the swimming pool and deck, installed a fence, and had the yard professionally landscaped. Paul also remodeled the basement of the home. Paul testified that he has spent the majority of his time in the marital home since the onset of his disability and that he felt most comfortable there.

During his case, Paul moved the trial court to admit into evidence a copy of the VA's written order adjudicating him to be disabled. Paul argued that the decision was a final administrative decision and requested the trial court to take judicial notice of the order. The trial court denied

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the motion and explained that it could not take judicial notice of the order because it was not published and accessible to the public. The trial court did allow Paul to include the decision in the trial court record as an offer of proof.

Karen also testified regarding the ownership and value of certain assets held by the parties. She testified that, according to Kelly's Blue Book, the parties' 2003 Jeep Cherokee had a value of $24,000 and the 1999 Harley Davidson motorcycle had a value of $16,000. Karen maintained that both of these vehicles were marital assets. Additionally, Karen asserted that the Mercury Sable that she drove was her own nonmarital property. Karen testified that she purchased the vehicle in 2003 for $22,875 using money that her brother had given to her as a gift. Karen acknowledged that she had deposited the money in the parties' joint bank account prior to purchasing the vehicle. Karen testified that she placed the money in the account simply as a conduit for disbursement of the purchase price. Karen testified that the money was in the parties' joint account for only one day.

Karen requested the trial court to award her the marital home. Karen liked the neighborhood the house was in, and the house was located 15 minutes from her job. Karen testified that she could afford to live in the home because the mortgage was paid and she would have to pay only the property taxes. Karen acknowledged that Paul spent more time in the marital home than she did.

George Pappas testified that he was retained by Karen to appraise the parties' marital home. Pappas prepared a uniform residential appraisal report on January 2, 2004, approximately seven months prior to trial. Pappas testified that he valued the parties' home at $295,000. Pappas indicated that, during the seven-month period between the preparation of the appraisal and trial, favorable market conditions existed and the value of the home might have increased by as much as $8,000.

The parties stipulated to the deposition testimony of Paul's psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey Zadecki. Dr. Zadecki testified that he diagnosed Paul as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in September 2002. Dr. Zadecki testified that, as of the time of trial, Paul's disorder continued to be severe and his social functioning was worsening. To treat the symptoms of his disorder, Dr. Zadecki prescribed various medications for Paul including Prozac, Wellbutrin, Clonazepam, and Sertraline. Dr. Zadecki opined that Paul's condition was chronic and that he would continue to encounter severe difficulty in functioning in occupational and social roles. Dr. Zadecki also opined that Paul would not be able to pursue any gainful employment because of his disability. On cross-examination, Dr. Zadecki testified that Paul's prognosis was "not absolutely pessimistic" and that Paul might eventually be able to function sufficiently to be self-employed. However, Dr. Zadecki opined that it was unlikely that Paul would be able to be effective in a work environment.

On September 14, 2004, the trial court issued a written memorandum of its findings. The trial court valued the Mercury Sable at $16,000 and awarded it to Karen as her nonmarital property. The trial court also found that $28,000 of the funds deposited in Villa Park Trust & Savings account 1963867 represented VA disability benefits that Paul had received since the commencement of the dissolution proceeding, and it awarded this amount to Paul...

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24 practice notes
  • In re Foster, No. 1–12–3078.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • August 22, 2014
    ...503(c)(2) of the Act. In fact, her argument relies entirely on In re Marriage of Wojcik, 362 Ill.App.3d 144, 154–56, 297 Ill.Dec. 795, 838 N.E.2d 282 (2005), which did not expressly consider either section 503(c)(1) or section 503(c)(2) of the Act.7 Specifically, Yvonne asserts that because......
  • In re Marriage of Heroy, No. 1-07-0308.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 17, 2008
    ...214 Ill.2d at 173, 291 Ill.Dec. 601, 824 N.E.2d 177; In re Marriage of Wojcik, 362 895 N.E.2d 1038 Ill.App.3d 144, 168, 297 Ill.Dec. 795, 838 N.E.2d 282 Maintenance awards are governed by section 504 of the Act, which sets forth 12 factors to consider in awarding a spouse maintenance. 750 I......
  • In re Mathis, No. 113496.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • March 25, 2013
    ...361 Ill.App.3d 1059, 1064, 297 Ill.Dec. 823, 838 N.E.2d 310 (2005); In re Marriage of Wojcik, 362 Ill.App.3d 144, 152, 297 Ill.Dec. 795, 838 N.E.2d 282 (2005); but see In re Marriage of Benkendorf, 252 Ill.App.3d 429, 443, 191 Ill.Dec. 863, 624 N.E.2d 1241 (1993) (holding that the trial cou......
  • Hamilton v. Hamilton, NO. 5-17-0295
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 5, 2019
    ...is not based on market analysis or an inspection of the home. See In re Marriage of Wojcik , 362 Ill. App. 3d 144, 152, 297 Ill.Dec. 795, 838 N.E.2d 282 (2005). Here, Don gave an opinion as to the value of the property, but he was not qualified as an expert in real estate appraisal, and he ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • In re Foster, No. 1–12–3078.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • August 22, 2014
    ...503(c)(2) of the Act. In fact, her argument relies entirely on In re Marriage of Wojcik, 362 Ill.App.3d 144, 154–56, 297 Ill.Dec. 795, 838 N.E.2d 282 (2005), which did not expressly consider either section 503(c)(1) or section 503(c)(2) of the Act.7 Specifically, Yvonne asserts that because......
  • In re Marriage of Heroy, No. 1-07-0308.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 17, 2008
    ...214 Ill.2d at 173, 291 Ill.Dec. 601, 824 N.E.2d 177; In re Marriage of Wojcik, 362 895 N.E.2d 1038 Ill.App.3d 144, 168, 297 Ill.Dec. 795, 838 N.E.2d 282 Maintenance awards are governed by section 504 of the Act, which sets forth 12 factors to consider in awarding a spouse maintenance. 750 I......
  • In re Mathis, No. 113496.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • March 25, 2013
    ...361 Ill.App.3d 1059, 1064, 297 Ill.Dec. 823, 838 N.E.2d 310 (2005); In re Marriage of Wojcik, 362 Ill.App.3d 144, 152, 297 Ill.Dec. 795, 838 N.E.2d 282 (2005); but see In re Marriage of Benkendorf, 252 Ill.App.3d 429, 443, 191 Ill.Dec. 863, 624 N.E.2d 1241 (1993) (holding that the trial cou......
  • Hamilton v. Hamilton, NO. 5-17-0295
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 5, 2019
    ...is not based on market analysis or an inspection of the home. See In re Marriage of Wojcik , 362 Ill. App. 3d 144, 152, 297 Ill.Dec. 795, 838 N.E.2d 282 (2005). Here, Don gave an opinion as to the value of the property, but he was not qualified as an expert in real estate appraisal, and he ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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