Madison - St. Clair Record

Friday, August 23, 2019

Fifth District reverses compensatory damages in dissolution case

By Christopher Mobley | Aug 11, 2017

MOUNT VERNON – The Fifth District Appellate Court has reversed and remanded a part of a circuit court's judgment in a marriage dissolution case.

The appeal arose from a Madison County Circuit Court order, which found David Jones in indirect civil contempt of court, ordering him to pay compensatory damages to the appellee, Anne Jones. The parties married on March 6, 1996, and had two children, one born in 1995 and one born in 1998.

The judgment was delivered by Justice John Barberis Jr., with Justices Melissa Chapman and Judy Cates concurring on the judgment.

During the parties' marriage, they purchased a marital home in Alton and a rental property, a two-unit duplex, in Granite City. On Oct. 21, 2008, Anne filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. In August 2009, the circuit court held a five-day trial on the parties' dissolution of marriage including custody determination of the parties' two children and distribution of property.

In the trial, Anne Jones testified that their home had been listed for sale at $279,000, but had two outstanding mortgages, totaling $170,000, and $100,000 in equity. David Jones testified that he was unable to make the mortgage payments on the home after January 2009, leading to a foreclosure suit being filed on June 23, 2009. On Sept. 24, 2009, judgment for foreclosure and sale of the marital home was entered for $153,968.29 in the suit brought by Fifth Third Mortgage Co. On March 25, 2010, the report of sale and the order of possession of the marital home were entered for $162,315.18. 

"No equity remained in the marital home following the foreclosure sale," the suit states.

In a 28-page judgment of dissolution of marriage order entered on April 5, 2010, Judge Elizabeth Levy instructed the parties to sell the marital home and divide the net proceeds. Levy also awarded Anne sole custody of the minor children. 

David filed a motion to reconsider the judgment of dissolution of marriage on May 5, 2010, arguing that the circuit court failed to take into consideration Anne's allegedly irresponsible spending and her refusal to work when it ordered David to pay all mortgage payments on the marital home, even though he was unemployed and the marital home had gone into foreclosure.

After multiple motions and petitions being filed by Anne and David regarding child support, the mentioned home, as well as other matters, the court has decided to reverse and remand the circuit court's order where it was without authority to recompense Anne, the aggrieved party, and compensatory damages where David failed to sell farm equipment and vehicles. 

On remand, the court instructed the previous court to "determine what property was sold by both parties, and at what sale price, as well as the fair market value of any unsold farm equipment and vehicles that still remain in the possession of either party, but which were required to be sold and proceeds divided, as part of the original judgment of dissolution. Next, with respect to the order requiring David to pay Anne damages for her lost equity in the marital home, we vacate that portion of the judgment," according to the ruling.

The order of compensatory damages has been reversed, vacated and remanded for further proceedings.

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court Madison County Circuit Court