Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, September 16, 2019

Ex-husband's appeal to have properties declared marital property denied

By Kristin Regula | May 25, 2017

MT. VERNON — An appeal stemming from a trial court decision regarding an ex-husband's motion to have two pieces of property owned by his former spouse declared marital property has been denied.

The Fifth District Appellate Court upheld a judgment against Sina Ghatan, affirming a verdict from St. Clair County Circuit Court. His former wife, Eveline Ghatan, had purchased two properties with money that had been given to her by her father. This money had then been deposited by Eveline Ghatan in an account separate from her husband’s before the two houses were ever purchased, therefore allowing her to meet the burden of proof required under Illinois law to have the two houses declared nonmarital property for the case of dividing nonmarital assets during the divorce proceedings.

The petition for divorce by Eveline Ghatan was filed on May 27, 2008.

Sina Ghatan subsequently filed an appeal after the trial court decision. 

Both the lower court and the appeals court found Eveline Ghatan’s proof that the properties were outside of marital assets more credible than the proof provided by Sina Ghatan. The court determined there was no evidence to suggest the trial court had erred in denying Sina Ghatan the chance to reopen evidence that it determined had already been submitted in the original divorce proceedings. It also determined the trial court had not erred in its assessment of the valuation of real estate.

Other issues before the appeals court included the more equal division of retirement accounts to accommodate the separate income made by each spouse. The lower court had initially ruled on a large sum that Sina Ghatan had to deposit in Eveline Ghatan’s retirement account each year, but that sum was lowered substantially to ensure the accounts were on a more equal footing for each of the former spouses.

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court St. Clair County Circuit Court Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Illinois