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

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

At another time, husband transferred the account solely to wife.   He testified that he transferred the account to 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 wife’s name that it was no longer a joint account.  He understood that he did not have any ownership interest in it.

Wife testified that 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 husband made a gift of the account to wife.  It became 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