Fifth District upholds Kelley in St. Clair County marital property dispute

By Steve Korris | Aug 9, 2013

Contractor Timothy Ahrens owes former wife Cyndie Ahrens $1,084,000, Fifth District appellate judges ruled on July 31.

They affirmed St. Clair County Circuit Judge Randall Kelley, who denied Timothy’s bid to classify land under their home and other assets as business rather than marital.

Justice Melissa Chapman wrote that Timothy commingled marital funds with those of his business, T.A. Contracting.

She wrote that the business account paid for all manner of family expenses such as groceries, utilities, and vehicles.

“Timothy refused to produce any statements from the T.A. Contracting account during the pendency of the divorce matter,” she wrote.

“Timothy should not now profit from his willful failure to comply with discovery requests,” she wrote.

“Timothy had no proof that T.A. Contracting had financial assets before the Ahrens married,” she wrote.

Presiding Justice Stephen Spomer and Justice Thomas Welch concurred.

The Justices also affirmed Kelley in rejecting Timothy’s claim that his three children owned 60 percent of a farm in Waterloo.

Chapman wrote that there is a presumption that property a spouse acquires during a marriage is marital property regardless of how the title is held.

“The transfer to a child is presumptively a gift, but that presumption may be overcome by clear and convincing evidence establishing the contrary,” she wrote.

“In cases where the designation of a property as marital or nonmarital is subject to both of these presumptions, Illinois law holds that the two presumptions cancel each other out,” she wrote.

A trial court is then free to determine whether an asset is marital or not, she wrote.

“The property was purchased with marital income,” she wrote. “The three children did not contribute to the purchase of the property.”

Timothy and Cyndie married in 1994.

They bought land on Buss Branch Road in Waterloo, and built a house.

In 1999, T.A. Contracting paid $379,665 for the farm.

Kelley dissolved the marriage at trial in 2010.

In his judgment, Kelley valued the home at $1,350,000, and the farm at $453,000.

He included two lesser properties and reached a total of $1,903,500. Half was awarded to Cyndie, rounding it down to $950,000.

Kelley valued farm equipment at $50,000, and awarded $25,000 to Cyndie.

He awarded her $100,000 as her share of Bancorp stock worth $550,000.

Chapman wrote, “The court declined to award Cyndie one half of the shares because of the other property awarded to her in the judgment.”

Kelley awarded Cyndie $9,000 in legal fees, and the Fifth District affirmed that.

“Difficulty in obtaining discovery from Timothy was known to the court,” Chapman wrote.

“Obviously, increased discovery costs will occur if one side is failing to cooperate,” she wrote.

Timothy Ahrens was represented by Robert Sprague of Belleville.

Cyndie Ahrens was represented by Susan Parnell Wilson of Belleville.

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