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In Re S.j.k.

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 25, 1986.

IN RE S.J.K., A MINOR.


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. Thomas E. Hildebrand, Jr., Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE KASSERMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The natural mother of the minor respondent appeals from an order entered by the circuit court of Madison County which awarded "permanent" custody of the minor to foster parents, James and Dimetra Ripley, and "suspended" the natural mother's visitation rights with the minor. The natural mother maintains on appeal that (1) the trial court lacked jurisdiction to award custody of the minor to the foster parents, and (2) the trial court erred in awarding permanent custody of the minor to the foster parents without terminating the parental rights of the natural mother.

The record indicates that on December 28, 1981, the State filed a petition in the circuit court of Madison County, alleging that S.J.K., a six-week-old infant, was a neglected minor as defined in section 2-4 of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 37, par. 702-4). The court entered an order on February 26, 1982, finding that the minor was neglected and making her a ward of the court. In an April 29, 1982, dispositional order, the court found that the natural mother, Starlin Mangrum, was unable to protect, train, discipline, or care for the minor and it was in the best interests of the minor to be removed from Ms. Mangrum's custody. The trial court then appointed the guardianship administrator of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as the guardian of the minor with the authority to place custody of the minor in accordance with her best interests.

The record further indicates that in June 1982 the minor was placed in the custody of foster parents, James and Dimetra Ripley. On March 2, 1984, these foster parents filed a petition to intervene (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-408(a)(2)), which the trial court granted on May 22, 1984.

On May 23, 1984, the guardian ad litem who had been appointed to represent the minor filed a motion for review of previous visitation orders, alleging that it would be in the best interest of the minor if the court were to suspend Ms. Mangrum's visitation rights with the minor. On June 12, 1984, the foster parents filed a petition requesting that the court award custody of the minor to them and that Ms. Mangrum's visitation rights with the minor be terminated.

The foster parents introduced the following evidence in support of their petition at a hearing held on September 18, 1984. Dr. Roy Mendelsohn, a child psychiatrist, testified that although the minor had experienced certain difficulties earlier in her life, she was currently overcoming those difficulties because she was "connected in a good way to [the] parenting experience" with the foster parents. Dr. Mendelsohn also stated that the termination of the minor's relationship with the foster parents would be detrimental to the minor because she had "bonded" with the foster parents. Noting that the minor was experiencing unnecessary anxiety resulting from her visits with Ms. Mangrum, Dr. Mendelsohn was of the opinion that it would be in the best interest of the minor if Ms. Mangrum's visitation rights with the minor were terminated.

Robert Clipper, a clinical psychologist, testified that the minor appeared to be secure and comfortable with the foster parents. Accordingly, he stated that it would be in the best interest of the minor to remain with the foster parents. Mr. Clipper also testified that Ms. Mangrum's visitation rights with the minor should be terminated because the minor experienced stress, anxiety, and confusion as a result of her visits with Ms. Mangrum.

After Dimetra Ripley testified that she and her husband had been the minor's foster parents since the minor was six months old, a period of more than three years, the parties stipulated that the foster parents were fit and proper persons to have custody of the minor.

A field investigator employed by the Department of Children and Family Services (Department), who was called as a witness by the State, testified that Ms. Mangrum had cooperated to some extent with the Department's efforts to rectify the conditions which led to the initial finding of neglect. However, the investigator stated that Ms. Mangrum should not have custody of the minor because such conditions had not been rectified at the time of the hearing. In addition, although he did not believe that Ms. Mangrum's parental rights should be terminated, the investigator testified that it would be in the best interest of the minor if Ms. Mangrum's visitation rights were terminated.

Ms. Mangrum admitted that she was in "no condition" to take care of the minor in 1982 when the court determined that the minor was neglected. However, Ms. Mangrum stated that she had "done everything [the Department] had asked" of her in order to regain custody of the minor. Ms. Mangrum further testified that she would not object "at the present time" if the Department retained custody of the minor.

In an order entered on September 20, 1984, the trial court found that it would be in the best interest of the minor to award custody of her to the foster parents and that continued visitation with the minor by either Ms. Mangrum or the minor's natural father, James Allen Kite, would constitute a "serious threat to the mental, physical and emotional well-being of the minor." Accordingly, the trial court (1) granted the permanent exclusive care, custody, control, and education of the minor to the foster parents, (2) suspended both Mr. Kite and Ms. Mangrum's visitation rights with the minor, and (3) terminated the Department's guardianship of the minor.

• 1, 2 Ms. Mangrum initially maintains on appeal that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to award permanent custody of the minor to the foster parents. Specifically, Ms. Mangrum points out that (1) in 1982 the trial court appointed the guardianship administrator of the Department as the guardian of the minor with the authority to place the minor in accordance with her best interest, and (2) the Department subsequently placed the minor with the foster parents. Ms. Mangrum argues that the interest of the foster parents in the minor was derived from the Department's guardianship and that when such guardianship was terminated, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to award custody of the minor to the foster parents.

In the September 1984 order, the trial court awarded custody of the minor to the foster parents, suspended Mr. Kite and Ms. Mangrum's visitation rights, and terminated the Department's guardianship. Ms. Mangrum apparently attaches great significance to the sequence in which the trial court listed the foregoing adjudications in the September 1984 order. However, where a trial court has jurisdiction in a particular matter, except in cases of default, that court may grant a party any remedy that is appropriate under the circumstances. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 2-604; Van Walsen v. Blumenstock (1978), 66 Ill. App.3d 245, 250, 383 N.E.2d 776, 779.) Furthermore, the sequence in which the trial court lists its various adjudications in an order will not affect the validity of that order. Accordingly, we reject Ms. Mangrum's contention that the September 1984 order was invalid because the court no longer had jurisdiction to award custody after the termination of the Department's guardianship.

• 3 Ms. Mangrum raises another jurisdictional issue in the instant appeal. As she points out, this cause was commenced in 1981 when the State filed a petition which alleged that the minor was neglected within the meaning of the Juvenile Court Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 37, par. 701-1 et seq.). After a hearing, the trial court placed the minor in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services pursuant to section 5-7 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 37, par. 705-7). However, the foster parents' petition for custody recited that it was filed pursuant to both section 601 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 40, par. 601) and section 5-8(3) of the Juvenile Court Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 37, par. 705-8(3)). In the September 1984 order, the trial court found that "[it had] jurisdiction of the subject matter and the ...


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