Parties had a divorce case. They agreed to resolve their property and maintenance issues through binding arbitration. That means that the trial judge did not make the decisions. That part of the case was sent to an arbitrator. The arbitrator made a decision. Then, the trial court confirmed the arbitration award afterwards. The court entered a final judgment for dissolution of the marriage. The arbitrator had previously been a different judge who had worked with divorce cases for many years.
Afterwards, Wife appealed. She argued that the arbitrator made mistakes. She argued that certain business interests were not Husband’s petitioner’s nonmarital property. She also argued that she should have received more maintenance.
The Appellate Court agreed with the arbitration award. Wife did not ask in her appeal that the arbitration award should be reversed under the rules of arbitration. She did not argue in her appeal that there was a gross mistake of law or fact. That mistake must be evident when seeing the arbitration decision. The arbitration award was not unconscionable.
The Arbitration Act contains its own rules for arbitration. The parties had agreed to binding arbitration.
The arbitrator saw that Wife had both bachelor’s and graduate degrees. Wife had earned more than $100,000 annually. The arbitrator found that Wife had intentionally not filed for unemployment benefits.
Also, the arbitrator found that respondent had submitted multiple copies of identical efforts to find a new job. Wife had done this in an attempt to misrepresent her efforts to seek new employment. The arbitrator did not believe that Wife had made a good-faith effort to secure new employment.
The arbitrator found that Wife’s claims of health problems were unsupported by any evidence. Wife’s health claims did not prevent her from working. The arbitrator applied the 14 factors in the Divorce Act for maintenance.
For the property to Husband, the arbitrator found that his property was completely under debt. The property had been pledged as collateral for debt owed to the bank. Husband was completely responsible for that debt.
The trial court’s orders are appealable. Wife was asking the Appellate Court to review the entire case using the same standards. The standards are different for divorce court trials and arbitration awards.
The Appellate Court had no basis to overturn the Arbitration Award.
In re Marriage of Haleas, 2016 IL App (2d) 160799, April 13, 2017.
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