1. Dissipation due to engaging in high-risk securities trading upheld. Husband appealed a trial court’s ruling of dissipation of marital funds in the amount of $890,700 which mostly comprised of funds he lost doing securities trading. The Appellate Court upheld the trial court. Husband conceded on appeal that he controlled and directed all investments without any input from wife and failed to discuss his trading activities with her. In 2006, husband quit his job where he earned in excess of $300,000 in order to become a trader. He identified that the marriage had begun to undergo an irretrievable breakdown in 2005. He liquidated the parties’ retirement and investment accounts unbeknownst to wife and placed them in a trading account which eventually secured margin debt associated with his day-trading activities. When the stock market declined in October 2008, his margin loan was called leaving him only $189,000 in his trading account. Husband argued that he had no bad intent when he lost the parties’ savings, but that he got caught in a global stock market crash. However, the Appellate Court held that bad intent is not a necessary finding of dissipation. Rather, the facts showed that husband acted recklessly by quitting his high-paying job and appropriating the family’s savings in order to fund his trading debt when he knew the devastating effect it could have on his family. In re the Marriage of Schneeweis, 2016 IL App (2d 140147.)
2. Minor child who turned 18 prior to hearing on plenary order of protection had to bring petition herself. Mother brought an emergency order of protection on behalf of her 17-year old daughter against the Respondent which was granted. In between the time the emergency order was granted and the hearing on the plenary order of protection, the daughter turned 18. The daughter did not attend the plenary hearing, even though she was named as the Petitioner in the case, because according to her mother, she was fearful. The trial court granted the plenary order of protection solely on the basis of mother’s testimony and a letter written by Respondent apologizing for his behavior. The Appellate Court reversed. At the time of the plenary hearing the Petitioner was 18 and should have brought the petition on her own behalf. To hold otherwise would allow an order of protection to be entered that a legally competent adult many not even know about or want. Diane P. v. M.R. 2016 IL App (3d) 150312.
3. Classification of accounts as marital upheld due to insufficient tracing. At trial on a petition for dissolution of marriage, husband attempted to trace six accounts as his non-marital property. All six accounts were opened during the marriage and therefore presumptively marital. Husband did not provide evidence in the form of account statements showing the value of the original accounts at the time of his first divorce in 1991 or at the time of his marriage to his new wife later in 1991. The first records submitted into evidence were statements from 2001. The only evidence as to the source of funds in the accounts funded prior to 2001 came in the form of testimony from husband and his stockbroker who both verbally traced the accounts back to 1991. The Court noted that it would be reversible error for a trial court to not find the property to be marital in light of a lack of evidence tracing the source of funds. In re the Marriage of Stuhr, 2016 IL App (1st) 152370.
4. Donations to Sufi religion not considered dissipation. At trial in a dissolution of marriage matter, husband claimed dissipation with respect to monthly donations wife made to the Sufi religion in the amount of approximately $600 per month. This amount was not considered dissipation by the trial court and upheld by the Appellate Court. The Court distinguished the case from In re the Marriage of Creven, 317 Ill.App.3d 895 (2000) where donations to a church were considered dissipation because there was no sufficient pattern of donations prior to the breakdown of the marriage. In this case, wife testified that husband never objected to her making donations although husband testified that he did not approve of her involvement with the religion. However, the evidence showed that wife converted to the Sufi religion in 2007, participated in seminars and retreats during the marriage, and husband admitted he traveled with wife on Sufi-related trips. The parties had also claimed donations on their previously filed joint tax returns, thereby establishing a pattern of the donations prior to the breakdown of the marriage. In re the Marriage of Stuhr, 2016 IL App (1st) 152370.
5. Trial court should have based maintenance award of wife’s previous income rather than her current income. At trial, the court awarded wife reviewable maintenance of $8,600 per month. Husband appealed the amount of the monthly award. He argued that wife had changed jobs from a full-time position paying $95,000 per year to a part-time position paying $50,000 during the divorce proceedings, and therefore chose to earn far less than she was capable. The Appellate Court reversed holding that the trial court should have considered wife’s previous income in setting the amount of maintenance. Wife had a higher earning capacity than her $50,000 per year part-time salary. In re the Marriage of Stuhr, 2016 IL App (1st) 152370.