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A “bifurcated” marital dissolution judgment is not final and immediately appealable

June 8, 2012 by in General

The trial court entered a marriage dissolution judgment incorporating a marital settlement agreement (“MSA”). The judgment (like the MSA) reserved some property allocation issues

for later determination. Five months later, the husband moved to modify the judgment pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-1203 and 5/2-1401, asserting a mutual mistake of fact. The trial court denied the motion on June 6, 2011. The husband filed a timely motion to reconsider, which was denied on June 28, 2011. The husband appealed the denial of his motion to modify. The reserved property allocation issues remained pending before the trial court.

Although the husband violated supreme court rules by failing to state the basis for appellate jurisdiction in his opening brief, the appellate court concluded that he intended to invoke Rules 301 and 303, which provide for the appeal of final judgments as of right.

The husband’s problem was that he had no final judgment from which to appeal. A dissolution of marriage action advances a single claim. Ordinarily, an order that resolves fewer than all issues, including the final property disposition, is not final because the court has not concluded the entire claim. The bifurcated dissolution judgment did not resolve the entire dissolution claim because certain property allocation issues were reserved. Accordingly, there was no basis for appellate jurisdiction and the court dismissed the appeal.

In re Marriage of Susman, 2012 IL App (1st) 112068.

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