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03/04/88 Barbara D. Clarke, v. Gerald L. Clarke

March 4, 1988





529 N.E.2d 575, 174 Ill. App. 3d 988, 124 Ill. Dec. 594 1988.IL.296

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Charles Grupp, Judge, presiding.


PRESIDING JUSTICE LORENZ delivered the opinion of the court. SULLIVAN and MURRAY, JJ., concur.


Petitioner Barbara D. Clarke appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County requiring her to pay the attorney fees of respondent Gerald L. Clarke and those of a court-appointed guardian ad litem. Those fees were incurred as the result of a dispute between the parties concerning Barbara's refusal to comply with the terms of visitation ordered by the circuit court. Barbara also appeals from those portions of the order denying as untimely her motion for amendment of the judgment of dissolution of marriage or for a new trial.

We find that the order appealed from was not final and therefore dismiss this appeal.

The parties were married on June 17, 1961. They have two children: Heather, born January 29, 1969, and Jerold, born March 15, 1974. Heather is severely retarded and apparently cannot speak. Barbara filed her petition for dissolution of marriage on October 26, 1982. On May 3, 1985, the circuit court entered an order granting custody of the children to Barbara and providing for visitation by Gerald.

On January 27, 1986, Gerald filed a petition for rule to show cause seeking to have Barbara held in contempt of court for having denied him his right of visitation as to Heather on December 29, 1985, and January 12, 1986. On January 29, 1986, Barbara filed an answer and counterpetition in which she admitted to having unilaterally denied Gerald these visitation periods. She alleged that these denials were based on her belief that Gerald has sexually abused Heather during visitation periods. The sole evidence cited was a doctor's gynecological exam of Heather on November 1, 1985, which purportedly revealed an "abnormally large opening of the hymen" which the doctor doubted was self-induced. Barbara sought discharge of the rule to show cause and denial of visitation rights to Gerald, or alternatively, supervised visitation.

As a result of these allegations the court appointed a guardian ad litem for Heather. On April 18, and April 21, 1986, hearings were held on Barbara's counterpetition. Gerald's attorney reminded the court that he had a pending motion (apparently a reference to the petition for rule to show cause) which he still wanted the court to entertain, but stated that he had no objection to the court first hearing the testimony of Heather's doctor, as an accommodation to the doctor. No further reference was made to Gerald's petition during these proceedings. At the Conclusion of Barbara's presentation of her evidence, the circuit court granted Gerald's motion for a directed finding, stating, "I haven't seen any clear and convincing evidence indicating Mr. Clarke has sexually abused or molested Heather." In a written order entered that day, which recited that the matter heard was Barbara's petition, the court found that there had been "no evidence" of sexual molestation of Heather by Gerald. The order further stated that Barbara's petition was dismissed with prejudice and that the prior order of visitation remained in effect.

Subsequently the guardian ad litem and Gerald's attorney filed fee petitions. Gerald's attorney sought payment of his fees by Barbara, alleging that Gerald should not be required to pay them "because of the nature of the allegations [in Barbara's petition] and the proof presented." In response to the guardian ad litem's petition for fees Gerald also requested that Barbara be required to pay the entirety of those fees. Neither Gerald's attorney fee petition nor Gerald's answer to the guardian ad litem's petition specified the authority relied upon for requiring payment by Barbara.

A hearing on these fee petitions was held July 24, 1986. The amount of fees requested was not disputed. Again counsel for Gerald did not specify the authority he was relying on for assessing fees against Barbara.

At the hearing the court also heard argument on Barbara's contention that she had filed a timely motion for new trial or amendment of judgment with respect to the order of dissolution of marriage; that order was entered March 25, 1986. On April 21, 1986, the circuit court had entered an order granting either party leave to file post-trial motions within 28 days. Barbara did not subsequently file such a motion, but at the July 24 hearings she contended that she had submitted such a motion directly to the court on April 21 and therefore had filed the motion in a timely fashion. Barbara has not included a copy of that motion in the record on appeal.

On August 15, 1986, the circuit court entered an order denying Barbara's motion for a new trial as untimely and ordering Barbara to pay the $3,250 in fees requested by the guardian ad litem and the $8,166.70 in fees requested by Gerald's attorney. The order also recited that all matters in the case had been resolved and that it was a final order, but it made no ...

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