Kranzler v. Kranzler, 1-17-1169

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation116 N.E.3d 346,426 Ill.Dec. 497,2018 IL App (1st) 171169
Docket NumberNo. 1-17-1169,1-17-1169
Parties In re Marriage of Uliana KRANZLER, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Leonard KRANZLER, Respondent-Appellee.
Decision Date27 September 2018

2018 IL App (1st) 171169
116 N.E.3d 346
426 Ill.Dec.

In re Marriage of Uliana KRANZLER, Petitioner-Appellant,
Leonard KRANZLER, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 1-17-1169

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, FOURTH DIVISION.

September 27, 2018

Grund & Leavitt, P.C., of Chicago (Marvin J. Leavitt, David C. Adams, and Ilene E. Shapiro, of counsel), for appellant.

Davis Friedman, LLP, of Chicago (Míle Knabe, Errol Zavett, and David M. Goldman, of counsel), for appellee.

JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

426 Ill.Dec. 500

¶ 1 Petitioner Uliana Kranzler appeals the circuit court's orders granting respondent Leonard Kranzler's motion for declaratory judgment and denying her motion to dismiss. We affirm, based on our conclusions that the circuit court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the dispute and the parties' premarital agreement was valid and enforceable.


¶ 3 On October 9, 1984, Uliana and Leonard married on the same day they executed the premarital agreement. At the time, Leonard was 47 years old and Uliana was 29 years old and approximately five months pregnant with the couple's first child. The parties ultimately had three children, all of whom were emancipated adults at the time Uliana filed her petition for dissolution in 2015.

¶ 4 The agreement provides, inter alia , that (1) any property acquired before marriage would remain in their individual names upon termination of the marriage and each party waived any interest in or claim to the other's property or income; (2) any property acquired jointly during the marriage would be divided equally upon termination of the marriage or death; (3) provided they were married at the time of death, Leonard would leave to Uliana a certain percentage of his net estate, which increased the longer they were married (40% if the parties were married more than 180 months); and (4) if either party filed for dissolution or separation, Leonard agreed to pay to Uliana, in lieu of maintenance, a set monthly amount for a certain number of months, both of which increased the longer they were married. As the parties were married for more than 240 months, Uliana was entitled to receive $2500 per month 3 for 100 months. Attached to the agreement was a document disclosing Leonard's financial condition

426 Ill.Dec. 501
116 N.E.3d 350

and assets, which were approximately $6.9 million in 1984.

¶ 5 On October 8, 2015, Uliana filed a petition for dissolution of marriage (case No. 15-D9295). Leonard filed an answer on November 19, 2015, raising no counterclaims.

¶ 6 On December 10, 2015, Leonard filed a motion for a declaratory judgment under section 2-701 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) ( 735 ILCS 5/2-701 (West 2014) ), requesting that the circuit court find the premarital agreement valid and enforceable.

¶ 7 Uliana filed a response and an amended response on July 14, 2016, to Leonard's motion for declaratory relief. She also filed a countermotion for declaratory judgment regarding the agreement. Uliana argued that the agreement was invalid on grounds that it was unfair and unreasonable; created an unforeseeable condition of penury, was void due to duress, lack of knowledge, and undue influence; was unconscionable; and was based on an illusory promise.

¶ 8 On November 14, 2016, Uliana filed a motion for voluntary dismissal of her dissolution action. On November 15, 2016, Leonard filed a counterpetition for dissolution of marriage and a motion for leave to file the counterpetition. On November 16, 2016, Leonard filed a response to Uliana's motion for voluntary dismissal of her petition, asserting that his motion for declaratory relief could stand as an independent cause of action surviving the dismissal.

¶ 9 On November 17, 2016, the circuit court granted Uliana's motion for voluntary dismissal of her petition for dissolution, but found that, based on In re Marriage of Best , 228 Ill. 2d 107, 319 Ill.Dec. 815, 886 N.E.2d 939 (2008), and In re Marriage of Krol , 2015 IL App (1st) 140976, 390 Ill.Dec. 501, 29 N.E.3d 433, Leonard's motion for declaratory judgment constituted an independent action surviving dismissal of her petition. On November 18, 2016, the court denied Leonard's motion for leave to file a counterpetition for dissolution of marriage.

¶ 10 On November 18, 2016, Leonard initiated a separate dissolution action by filing his own petition for dissolution of marriage, which proceeded before the same judge (case No. 16-D10698). He filed a motion to consolidate the two cases but later withdrew it. Uliana filed an answer and counterclaim, asserting, inter alia , the same arguments she had raised against the agreement in response to Leonard's motion for declaratory relief. Leonard moved to dismiss Uliana's counterclaims in his dissolution case.

¶ 11 On November 29, 2016, Uliana filed a motion to dismiss Leonard's motion for declaratory judgment in the present case on the basis of (1) lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and (2) failure to satisfy the termination-of-controversy required for declaratory relief.

¶ 12 The circuit court denied Uliana's motion to dismiss Leonard's motion for declaratory judgment on January 3, 2017, citing the same reasons it relied on in allowing Leonard's motion for a declaratory judgment to survive the dismissal of Uliana's petition for dissolution. The court also denied Uliana's request for a finding that there was no just reason for delaying appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (eff. Mar. 8, 2016). In addition, the circuit court entered an order in Leonard's dissolution case (case No. 16-D-10698), granting Leonard's motion to dismiss most of Uliana's counterclaims.

¶ 13 A trial on Leonard's motion for declaratory relief (in case No. 15-D-9295) occurred over two days. Leonard testified that he and Uliana began dating in August 1983 but continued to date other people.

426 Ill.Dec. 502
116 N.E.3d 351

Within a few months of meeting, Uliana moved into his apartment. At some point, Uliana became pregnant; she had an abortion after they discussed it. Approximately one year later, Uliana again became pregnant. Uliana told Leonard that she did not want to have another abortion. Leonard responded that he understood, but he did not want to get married. Leonard testified that neither he nor Uliana wanted to get married.

¶ 14 Leonard testified that when his father and Uliana's father learned of the second pregnancy, they spoke to each other and then to Leonard about marrying Uliana. "[T]he discussion was get married, have an antenuptial agreement that allows you to have a short marriage if that is what you wish, this covers all the bases, the baby will not be born improperly, you will go on with your lives without great cost emotionally and socially." Leonard testified that the two fathers reasoned that the marriage could be short and "[t]he prenup will protect you from serious financial consequences. If you choose to stay married longer, you can do so. * * * And that seemed like a reasonable compromise so that since there will be no abortion, the baby will have a name and be a legitimate baby not born out of wedlock."

¶ 15 Leonard testified that he was persuaded to get married because having a baby out of wedlock would "affect the child, it would affect my professional standing, reputation, and Uli[ana]'s reputation." Leonard testified that he was concerned with the embarrassment it would bring to him and his family. He also decided to get married out of respect for his father, although his father would not have disowned or disinherited him. Leonard testified that Uliana's father was similarly eager for her to marry because of the concern of bringing shame to her and her family. Leonard testified that "to a large extent" both he and Uliana were forced to get married.

¶ 16 Leonard believed his father, who was an attorney, contacted a law firm to draft the agreement. Leonard believed Uliana's lawyer was sent a draft of the agreement on September 27, 1984. Leonard testified that "various versions of the prenup were presented back and forth" and there were negotiations and revisions by Uliana and her lawyer.

¶ 17 With regard to the execution of the agreement, Leonard testified that "[t]he understanding was that if she would sign the agreement, I would sign the agreement. And apparently some many days or weeks went by where she was not signing, I was not signing." On the evening of October 9, 1984, his father called him and informed him that Uliana had agreed to sign the agreement. Leonard "said, well, I had agreed to sign it if she did also. So I left what I was doing and went to the apartment, and the rest followed."

¶ 18 When he arrived at his apartment, his father, Uliana's father, Uliana, a rabbi, and a mutual friend were already there. He believed Uliana signed the document around 7, 8, or 9 p.m. that evening. Leonard testified that they did not discuss anything but sat down at the dining room table and signed the agreement. Uliana initialed each page and signed it. He did not force her to sign it. Uliana was five months pregnant at the time. She was...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 cases
  • In re Prill
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 3, 2021
    ...). Our review of a declaratory judgment order depends on the issues involved. Kranzler v. Kranzler , 2018 IL App (1st) 171169, ¶ 39, 426 Ill.Dec. 497, 116 N.E.3d 346. A determination of whether a contract—such as a postnuptial agreement—is unconscionable is a question of law that we review ......
  • Solano v. Solano (In re Marriage of Solano), 2-18-0011
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 8, 2019
    ...... In re Marriage of Kranzler , 2018 IL App (1st) 171169, ¶ 39, 426 Ill.Dec. 497, 116 N.E.3d 346. Questions of fact are ......
  • King v. Find-A-Way Shipping, LLC
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 4, 2020
    ......Kranzler v. Kranzler , 2018 IL App (1st) 171169, ¶ 43, 426 Ill.Dec. 497, 116 N.E.3d 346. ¶ 23 The concept ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT