IICLE Family Law Flash Points – November 2022 – Family Law


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Trial Court’s Award of Joint Decision-Making and Equal
Parenting Time Reversed and Remanded

In Sadler v. Pulliam, 2022 IL App (5th)
220213, the father filed a petition to establish parentage and for
parental responsibility. After an extensive trial, the court
ordered equal parenting time and joint decision-making. The
evidence included testimony from both parties concerning an
incident in which the child broke her leg during the father’s
parenting time and the mother’s alleged refusal to continue to
allow him to have parenting time after that incident. There was
evidence regarding the parties’ acrimonious relationship,
including the father’s actions to block the mother on Facebook
when she was pregnant and his refusal to do a DNA test. The mother
also testified as to a number of times that the child was returned
to her without her diaper being changed. In its ruling, the trial
court did not expressly name the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution
of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/101, et seq., or discuss any
of the best-interests factors set forth therein in support of its
order. The mother appealed, and the appellate court reversed and
remanded for further proceedings. In its opinion, the court
distinguished In re Marriage of Whitehead, 2018 IL App
(5th) 170380, 97 N.E.3d 566, 420 Ill.Dec. 684, relied on by the
father. The trial court in Whitehead did not address each
factor but stated that in rendering its decision it considered all
of the evidence, which included the guardian ad litem’s report
that had reviewed each factor extensively. Because the trial court
in the case at bar did not reference any of the factors and there
was no reliable GAL report that discussed the factors, the trial
court did not comply with the statute when rendering its
decision.

Trial Court’s Order for Relocation to Alabama Affirmed

In Scott v. Haritos, 2022 IL App (1st)
220074, a parentage action in which there was no allocation
judgment of parental responsibilities or child support order put
into place after the birth of the child and the parties never lived
together, the mother moved to Alabama. It was disputed whether the
father had agreed for her and the child to move. The father filed a
petition for allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting
time and to establish child support after the mother had moved. The
mother then filed a petition for relocation. The trial court
ordered the mother to return to Illinois pending trial, which she
did. In the meantime, the father moved from Chicago to Champaign.
The trial court heard extensive testimony about a job waiting for
the mother in Alabama and the fact that she had applied to over 200
jobs in the Chicagoland area and had not secured employment and
that she had the ability to live in a much safer neighborhood in
Alabama than in Chicago, among other facts. The GAL issued a report
that weighed in favor of relocation. The GAL noted that the father
did not desire to be the parent with the majority of parenting time
and that there was concern that the objection to the relocation was
more about controlling the mother than it was about parenting time
with the minor child. The trial court made extensive findings in
accordance with §609.2(g) of the IMDMA, 750 ILCS 5/609.2(g),
and concluded that relocation of the child to Alabama was in the
child’s best interests. The appellate court affirmed and in so
doing distinguished several cases in which the appellate court
overturned a trial court’s ruling allowing relocation and noted
the trial court and the GAL’s determination that the
mother’s motive in seeking relocation was to provide an
enhanced quality of life for the child while the father’s
motivation in opposing was more about controlling the mother rather
than having parenting time with the child since he had moved 122
miles from Chicago, while the mother and child had moved back to
Chicago at his insistence pending trial.

Motion To Enforce Money Judgment in Judgment for Dissolution of
Marriage Time-Barred

The ex-wife in In re Marriage of Poulsom, 2022 IL
App (1st) 220100, filed a motion to enforce judgment for
dissolution of marriage in 2021 with respect to a judgment that was
entered in 1995. She alleged she was entitled to $50,946 to be paid
within 30 days from the entry of judgment, which she never
received. The request for the $50,946 was time-barred. Section
12-108 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/1-101, et
seq
., provides that “no judgment shall be enforced after
the expiration of 7 years from the time the same is rendered.”
2022 IL App (1st) 220100 at ¶19. A judgment may be revived by
filing a petition to revive a judgment provided that it is filed
within 20 years after its entry pursuant to §13-218 of the
Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/13-218. Because this was a
money judgment in a dissolution case, the above provisions applied
and the ex-wife was barred from seeking enforcement of the judgment
26 years after entry of judgment.

Petition To Enforce Sale of Marital Residence Denied

In Poulsom, the ex-wife filed a motion
to enforce judgment for dissolution of marriage 26 years after its
entry in which she alleged her ex-husband failed to list for sale
the marital residence, for which she was to receive 60 percent of
the sales proceeds. The ex-husband argued that the ex-wife had in
fact signed over title to him in 1999 and he had refinanced the
mortgage and paid her $115,800, which was 60 percent of its value.
Due to the 26-year delay in the ex-wife seeking enforcement, most
bank records were not available, including copies of the check
written to the ex-wife for her 60 percent buyout. The ex-husband
did call the notary who had notarized the deed, and the notary
corroborated the ex-husband’s testimony that the ex-wife had in
fact signed over title. The trial court’s finding that the
ex-husband satisfied the judgment by paying the ex-wife $115,800
was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. The ex-wife
failed to make an offer of proof to dispute the fact that she had
signed a quitclaim deed, although she claimed she had a handwriting
expert who would refute that she had actually signed the deed.
Without an offer of proof, no appealable issue remained.

Turnover Orders To Satisfy Attorneys’ Fees Consent Judgment
Affirmed

In In re Marriage of Davis, 2022 IL App
(1st) 210623, a former client appealed the order of the trial court
that granted two motions for turnover filed by the former law firm
of the client in order to satisfy a $325,000 consent judgment. The
first motion sought turnover of real estate, which was awarded to
the client under the judgment but still owned by the ex-husband,
and the second motion sought turnover of the client’s chose in
action against the ex-husband related to a $500,000 lump-sum
payment owed to the client under the judgment. The appellate court
affirmed both turnover orders. Section 2-1402(c)(3) of the Code of
Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/2-1402(c)(3), provides that a judgment
creditor may step into the shoes of a judgment debtor and exercise
the right to compel transfer of the property, which the client was
entitled to under the judgment. Essentially, §2-1402(c)(3)
provides that if a third party is holding assets that belong to the
judgment debtor, the court may compel the application of the
discovered assets or income to the satisfaction of the judgment as
long as the judgment debtor would have the right to recover such
assets from the third party. With respect to the chose in action,
which is a claim that could be litigated, since the former client
had a right to receive the $500,000 lump-sum payment from the
ex-husband under the marital settlement agreement, which was a
contractual right that could be assigned, the trial court did not
err in ordering the turnover of the chose in action in favor of the
law firm.

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