Wife and Husband signed a marital settlement agreement (MSA) and a joint-parenting agreement. Wife did not have an attorney and husband did. Wife signed an entry of her appearance in the case and waived any further notice. She just thought everything would go as she thought it would
Soon after that, husband and his attorney attended a prove-up hearing for entry of a judgment of dissolution of marriage. Wife was not present at the hearing. She still did not have an attorney.
The Court entered a divorce decree. The Wife went back to the trial court within nine months. She argued the divorce decree was based on fraud and unfairness (unconscionability). If you go back to court, there is a requirement that you do it as soon as you can (due diligence). But, that is not strictly enforced where fraud or unfair conduct occurs.
Wife claimed that husband misled her as to the value of the business. Also, she claimed that he gave false testimony as to his income. The Court looked at a business appraisal to show husband’s state of mind as to fraud or deception.
Wife did not have an attorney. Husband had misstated his income during the settlement negotiations. He did not disclose information about the parties’ business interests. Husband received the majority of the marital assets. He failed to disclose assets, and it was unlikely the trial court would have approved the settlement agreement if the court had been provided with complete information. The Appellate Court vacated the settlement agreement. It did keep the part of the agreement that awarded the parties joint custody of their children. It sent the case back to the trial court to do again.
Beware that there are other cases out there that penalize you for not doing your homework during the case. The Court may not listen to you if you could have found out about the fraud and trickery before the divorce was final. That is what discovery and the whole process is about-getting to the truth.
In re Marriage of Roepenack, 2012 IL App (3d) 110198
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