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06/08/87 the Department of Public v. Rodney Dale Peterson

June 8, 1987





509 N.E.2d 146, 156 Ill. App. 3d 657, 108 Ill. Dec. 720 1987.IL.769

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Ford County; the Hon. William M. Roberts, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE LUND delivered the opinion of the court. GREEN and McCULLOUGH, JJ., concur.


On July 2, 1986, in the circuit court of Ford County, a petition was filed by the Illinois Department of Public Aid, on behalf of Washoe County, Nevada, and Debra Sue Peterson (petitioner) pursuant to the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 1201 et seq.), requesting that Rodney Dale Peterson (respondent) be ordered to pay future child support and pay the arrearage for back child support. The court denied the petition on August 19, 1986, on the grounds that respondent was making child-support payments but that the circuit clerk was holding them in escrow as a sanction against petitioner for her failure to obey a lawful court order. Petitioner appeals the denial of the URESA petition.

Previously, on May 14, 1986, the circuit court filed an order directing that all of the child-support payments made by respondent be paid in escrow. The purpose of the order was to enforce respondent's telephone visitation rights, which he had obtained by court order, with his two very young children residing with petitioner in Nevada.

The issue before the court is whether a URESA petition, originating in Nevada and filed on behalf of the petitioner, who is the custodial mother, can be defeated by an Illinois court order impounding support payments in order to enforce a domestic-relations order concerning visitation. The Nevada petition, dated November 8, 1985, asks for payment of an arrearage of $275 and for current payments of $55 per week.

Petitioner contends the court erred in denying the URESA petition since visitation problems cannot be raised as a defense to child support in a URESA case. Section 23 of URESA reads in part:

"The determination or enforcement of a duty of support owed to one obligee is unaffected by any interference by another obligee with rights of custody or visitation granted by a court." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 1223.)

Petitioner cites the rule that a responding court in a URESA action lacks authority to withhold child-support payments until a custodial parent makes the child available for visitation. Rathmell v. Gardner (1982), 105 Ill. App. 3d 986, 434 N.E.2d 1156; Dorsey v. Dorsey (1980), 86 Ill. App. 3d 1043, 408 N.E.2d 502; People ex rel. Winger v. Young (1979), 78 Ill. App. 3d 512, 397 N.E.2d 253.

Respondent does not contest the law asserted by the petitioner. He asserts that petitioner's characterization of the case is incorrect. This case does not involve, as petitioner argues, the situation where the visitation problem is raised as a defense in a URESA petition. Rather, he states, this case involves a post-decree court order impounding child support as a sanction for visitation problems. The post-decree order was entered prior to the filing of the URESA petition. Respondent asserts that since URESA remedies are strictly derivative of support responsibility, the court was correct in not allowing the URESA petition to override the prior court order. Respondent believes this case is controlled by authorities which have held that URESA is intended to enforce support orders previously entered (Super v. Armstrong (1980), 83 Ill. App. 3d 1062, 404 N.E.2d 1008), and he concludes that if the support order terminates or suspends child support, then the URESA petition must be denied or dismissed.

The purpose of URESA is to enable a dependent in one State to enforce a duty of support owed by a person residing in another State. (People ex rel. Noah v. Gasik (1980), 91 Ill. App. 3d 980, 415 N.E.2d 452; People ex rel. Kerl v. Kerl (1979), 75 Ill. App. 3d 347, 393 N.E.2d 1305.) It is a separate, independent action to enforce support obligations, and the remedies provided under URESA are in addition to and not in substitution for any other remedies. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 1203; People ex rel. Oetjen v. Oetjen (1980), 92 Ill. App. 3d 699, 416 N.E.2d 278; People ex rel. Gribbins v. Skopitz (1985), 135 Ill. App. 3d 76, 481 N.E.2d 815.) URESA ...

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