APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT
JOHN A. BETTS, Respondent-Appellant
526 N.E.2d 1138, 172 Ill. App. 3d 742, 122 Ill. Dec. 599 1988.IL.1164
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Ford County; the Hon. William T. Caisley, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court. GREEN, P.J., and LUND, J., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE KNECHT
The respondent ex-husband in this appeal was held in contempt of court on October 9 and December 11, 1987, for failure to pay past-due child support. Respondent appeals these contempt findings and the respective purge orders, as well as several other issues relating to child support due, venue and attorney fees. We affirm.
On May 8, 1987, the trial court temporarily modified respondent's child support obligation. The docket entry reads:
"Respondent petitioned for a suspension or reduction of support. . . . It was ordered that the child support be reduced from September 10, 1986, until November 10, 1986, to the amount of $76.57 per month for both children and after November 10, 1986 return to original amount. . . . The petitioner petitioned for a rule to show cause. The petition was allowed."
After the modification order was issued, respondent was ordered to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for failing to pay child support from September 1986 through May 1987. Hearings were held on July 10 and October 9, 1987, and the contempt finding was entered on the latter date.
First, respondent unsuccessfully argues the petitions to show cause were defective because they were certified rather than verified. Effective January 1, 1984, the Code of Civil Procedure was amended to permit pleadings to be verified by certification. (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1984 Supp., ch. 110, par. 1-109.) Via the Civil Practice Law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-101 et seq.), the amendment is made applicable to section 403 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 403) by sections 105(a) and 410 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, pars. 105(a), 410). Respondent's argument that section 1-109 contained in the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 1-109) is inapplicable to the Civil Practice Law in article II of the same Code is absurd.
In a circuitous manner, respondent next argues the rule to show cause was erroneously entered on May 8, 1987, hence the contempt finding on October 9, 1987, was not supported by the record. Respondent claims the rule to show cause was inappropriately based on the modified order also entered that day, rather than on the original dissolution order.
Petitioner submits that the rule to show cause was entered on May 8 simply because respondent did not pay child support from September 1986 to May 1987. We agree. The docket entry of May 8 clearly indicates the trial court separately considered respondent's petition for modification and petitioner's rule to show cause. The allowance of the latter petition was not triggered by the modification order of the same date; rather, it was the inevitable result of respondent's longtime neglect of his child support duties.
Respondent's notice of appeal filed December 31, 1987, specified he is in part appealing from the October 9 and December 11, 1987, contempt judgments. The May 8, 1987, judgment is not listed; therefore, petitioner refused to address the issues raised by respondent relating to the May 8 modification order and argues review of that decision is not within this court's jurisdiction.
Supreme Court Rule 303(c)(2) requires a notice of appeal to "specify the judgment or part thereof appealed from" (107 Ill. 2d R. 303(c)(2)) so that the successful party in the trial court is advised of the nature of the appeal. To fulfill this purpose, a notice of appeal is to be liberally construed so that when it is deficient in form only, and not in substance, the appellate court is not deprived of jurisdiction. (Burtell v. First Charter Service Corp. (1979), 76 Ill. 2d 427, 394 N.E.2d 380; Dillman & Associates, Inc. v. Capitol Leasing Co. (1982), 110 Ill. App. 3d 335, 442 N.E.2d 311.) Appeals of unspecified judgments were allowed in Burtell and Dillman because the appellees were not prejudiced thereby and the specified orders related directly back to the order sought to be reviewed.
Such interrelation is lacking in this case. The order of which respondent complains temporarily modified his child support obligation. There is nothing in the record linking that May 8 order to the later judgments of contempt on October 9 and December 11, 1987. The notice filed, which lists only the latter dates, did not adequately inform petitioner that respondent was also appealing from the modification order. Accordingly, we have jurisdiction only to the extent respondent appeals the October 9, 1987, contempt finding by arguing the corresponding rule to show cause was erroneously based on a modification order. We have already rejected that argument.
On December 30, 1987, respondent deposited a money order in the amount of $2,394.19 with the clerk of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, satisfying the October 9 and December 11, 1987, orders relating to child support and attorney fees. We find respondent's payment renders moot his arguments relating to those orders; however, we find it necessary to address the merits.
Respondent complains he should have not been adJudged in contempt on December 11, 1987, for failure to pay child support. The record reflects respondent moved to dismiss the petition for rule to show cause on the grounds that he paid his child support obligation in full on December 10, 1987, one day prior to the hearing on the petition. The ...