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In Re Robertson

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 31, 1986.

IN RE JEANNE ROBERTSON, F/K/A JEANNE SOLLITT, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND ARTHUR M. SOLLITT, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Richard H. Jorzak, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MCMORROW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied February 4, 1987.

Petitioner, Jeanne Robertson (Jeanne), formerly known as Jeanne Sollitt, filed a petition to revive a 1970 judgment against Arthur Sollitt (Arthur), her former husband, for past-due child support. The trial court allowed Jeanne's petition and entered a consolidated judgment against Arthur in the amount of $124,852.35. The court also awarded Jeanne $19,875.26 in attorney fees. Arthur appeals and the following issues are presented for our review:

(1) whether the 1965 divorce decree validly asserted subject matter jurisdiction over the marriage and personal jurisdiction over Arthur;

(2) whether Arthur's remarriages estop him from denying the court's subject matter and personal jurisdiction over him to enter the decree of divorce and to order child support;

(3) whether Jeanne's failure to file a contemporaneous affidavit of service for the 1983 petition to revive judgment rendered the service invalid;

(4) whether payments to the parties' twin children by their paternal grandmother's testamentary trust should have been credited against Arthur's child-support arrearage;

(5) whether the attorney fee award entered against Arthur was improper or excessive.

We affirm.

BACKGROUND

I. THE 1964-1965 DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS

Arthur and Jeanne were married November 9, 1957, in Kenilworth, Illinois, and twin sons were born to the parties during their marriage. Arthur left Jeanne and the Cook County marital residence on August 14, 1962, and for over a year thereafter she did not know his whereabouts. At the end of 1963, Jeanne located him in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She filed a complaint for separate maintenance on April 8, 1964. Arthur was served personally with summons and a copy of the complaint in Chicago during a brief visit he made to Chicago to attend his father's funeral.

After Arthur returned to Puerto Rico where he had been living, he and Jeanne attempted a reconciliation. The parties entered into an agreed order and a stipulation that permitted them to live together without prejudice to any of their rights. Arthur signed the agreed reconciliation order, as well as a stipulation to the parties' living together without condonation, while he was in Puerto Rico. The documents were presented to and accepted by the court, which entered the order in August 1964. Although Jeanne joined Arthur in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for five weeks, the reconciliation was unsuccessful. Jeanne and Arthur have not lived together since September 1964.

Jeanne's separate-maintenance complaint was dismissed for want of prosecution on December 1, 1964. Jeanne filed a timely motion to vacate the dismissal and sent Arthur notice thereof by regular mail. An affidavit that notice of the motion was mailed to Arthur was filed with the court on December 24, 1964.

After the circuit court vacated the dismissal and reinstated Jeanne's complaint for separate maintenance, Jeanne moved to terminate the 1964 reconciliation order and for leave to file an amended complaint. She sent Arthur notice of these motions by regular mail to his residence and place of employment in Puerto Rico on January 19, 1965. The court granted both motions, and Jeanne filed her amended complaint for divorce on January 29, 1965. Arthur now denies that he ever received notice of the motion to reinstate the complaint for separate maintenance and the motion to file the amended complaint for divorce.

On March 3, 1965, the circuit court entered an order of default against Arthur for his failure to appear or plead and held an evidentiary hearing on Jeanne's amended complaint for divorce. Based upon Jeanne's testimony regarding Arthur's desertion in 1962 and his then current financial circumstances, the court entered a decree for divorce on April 19, 1966. The decree awarded custody of the children to Jeanne and ordered Arthur to pay $125 a week for child support and $500 in attorney fees.

In 1968, Arthur remarried and had two children by this second marriage. He and his second wife were divorced in 1974. ...


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