Husband appeals from an order of the circuit court finding that a workers’ compensation settlement was marital property. The trial court had awarded 50% of the settlement to the wife.

Husband argues that the trial court erred in classifying the entire workers’ compensation settlement as marital property. He says that the settlement is compensation for his diminished earning capacity. That diminished capacity continues far beyond the date of dissolution. So, he argues that the bulk of the settlement should be considered nonmarital property.

In other case law, the court had held that the portions of a workers’ compensation award which represent wage loss and medical payments incurred during the marriage should be classified as marital property, But, the portion which replaces wages lost after dissolution should be classified as non-marital.

The trial court specifically noted that it had reviewed the factors listed in section 503(d). The court found three statutory factors to be particularly relevant. (1) the duration of the marriage; (2) the age, health, station, occupation, amount and source of income, vocational skills, employability, and needs of the parties. And (3) the reasonable opportunity of each spouse for future acquisition of assets and income.

The court pointed out that the wife was in her mid–50’s. She had a ninth-grade education. No training. She had some physical problems. She had not worked in many years.

The court had taken into consideration the husband’s partial loss of ability to earn future income. But, he still had a substantially greater ability to acquire assets and income than his wife did.

The marriage had not been a very long one. The court indicated that it would have awarded a larger share of the marital estate to the wife, but the length of the marriage weighed in the husband’s favor.

IRMO Hall, 278 Ill.App.3d 782

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