The divorce court found that the Fidelity account was the wife’s sole property. The court found that the husband had made a gift of the account to the wife. Husband appealed.

The disputed account had $1,551,616.48. At one time, this account contained the husband’s premarital funds. It had been a joint account between the parties.

At another time, the husband transferred the account solely to the wife. He testified that he transferred the account to his wife to protect the account from two malpractice actions then pending against him.

He anticipated the account would be returned to joint ownership upon his retirement. He admitted he understood when he transferred the account into his wife’s name that it was no longer a joint account. He understood that he did not have any ownership interest in it.

The wife testified that her husband gave her the account as a gift. The reason was that “ he’s substantially older than me, and he wanted me to feel secure”. “At that time he cared about me.”

Husband argued, however, that wife did not claim the account as her nonmarital property in her response to his interrogatories. She had at first did so in her supplemental pretrial memorandum.

The trial court and the appellate court found that the husband made a gift of the account to the wife. It became the wife’s nonmarital property. The trial court judge had assessed the credibility of husband and wife. The judge believed more likely her version of the events in making its decision.

IRMO Barnett, 344 Ill.App.3d 1150

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