A father accused of paying off debts with funds allegedly intended for his daughter’s college education seeks to dismiss the suit, arguing that any sums from his divorce proceeding belong to him and his ex-wife.
Clarissa Mueth filed the complaint on Oct. 4 against Jeffrey Mueth, alleging he breached his duty under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, or UTMA.
In her complaint, the plaintiff argues that she has been deprived of funds she needed to pay for her college expenses and has been required to obtain loans and pay interest.
Clarissa Mueth alleges her father converted money he was required to keep as a custodian of the UTMA account and used it to purchase a car and pay his personal debts.
Jeffrey Mueth filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on Feb. 15 through attorney Daniel Grueninger of Belleville.
In his motion, he argues that a judgment of dissolution of marriage with Iris Mueth, the plaintiff’s mother, was entered on Dec. 19, 2003. Clarissa Mueth was a minor at that time and resided in Missouri with her mother.
The plaintiff graduated high school in May 2015 and turned 18 in June 2015.
“That pursuant to a judgment of dissolution, an order for the transfer of property to a minor child after the age of majority, is invalid, as is the ordering of a gift to a child that has reached the age of majority,” the motion states.
The defendant also argues that Clarissa Mueth lacks standing to seek any damages under UTMA as any sums are the marital property of her parents.
Jeffrey Mueth argues that there is currently an appeal in the Fifth District Appellate Court following denial of a claim by Iris Mueth in Clinton County for proceedings regarding the UTMA accounts for their children.
“That said appeal is premised upon the mother having the standing necessary to proceed on her petition to show cause that she had previously filed in Clinton County, and based on the claim that the father converted the funds in the UTMA account,” the motion explains.
The defendant adds that St. Clair County lacks subject matter jurisdiction on the same matter currently pending before the appellate court.
Jeffrey Mueth also filed a motion to transfer to Clinton County.
He argues that he has lived in Clinton County since 2006 and all proceedings in the underlying divorce action were transferred to Clinton County per Iris Mueth’s motion to transfer in 2009.
“That transfer of this matter to Clinton County would serve the economies of justice, in that: all evidence regarding the dissolution of marriage between Defendant and Plaintiff’s mother, which forms the basis of Plaintiff’s Complaint, is located in Clinton County,” the motion states.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot scheduled a motion hearing for April 19 at 9 a.m.
The plaintiff is represented by Rhonda D. Fiss of The Law Office of Rhonda D. Fiss in Belleville.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 16-L-530