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02/23/89 In Re Custody of T.R.W.

February 23, 1989

IN RE CUSTODY OF T.R.W., A MINOR (DOROTHY BELLEFONT,


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

Petitioner-Appellant, v.

Lula Wright, Respondent-Appellee)

536 N.E.2d 74, 179 Ill. App. 3d 1036, 129 Ill. Dec. 390 1989.IL.228

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. John G. Townsend, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

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

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LUND

Petitioner Dorothy Bellefont filed a petition seeking custody of the minor, T.R.W., in the circuit court of Champaign County, pursuant to section 4 of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 40, par. 2104). Petitioner is the minor's paternal grandmother. After ascertaining that a dissolution proceeding was pending in the circuit court of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, which included the matter of the minor's care and custody, the circuit court of Champaign County determined it was an inconvenient forum and dismissed the petition. Further, the court ordered petitioner to conform to certain orders on file in the Wisconsin proceeding by returning physical custody of the minor to the minor's mother. Petitioner appeals. We affirm.

The following is a chronological history of the relevant facts. On June 29, 1987, Lula H. Wright filed a petition for dissolution of marriage from Donney Bernard Wright in the circuit court of Milwaukee County. Lula petitioned the court for full custody of the couple's three minor children, including T.R.W. A guardian ad litem was appointed to represent the interests of the minors on August 11, 1987. An order was entered on September 3, 1987, granting temporary custody of T.R.W. to both parents. Later, the temporary custody order was modified in that Lula was given sole temporary physical custody. On January 20, 1988, an order was entered requiring Lula and Donney and the three children to submit to psychological evaluations.

In April, Lula allowed T.R.W. to visit petitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The arrangements included a visit of three weeks, beginning April 22 and ending May 7, 1988. However, petitioner did not return T.R.W. as planned.

Petitioner filed her petition for custody on June 2, 1988. She alleged specific incidents in which T.R.W. had been physically abused by her mother. The specific incidents dated back to November 1986. Petitioner also alleged that T.R.W. was generally uncared for by her mother. A temporary order was entered in Champaign County granting petitioner custody of T.R.W.

When Lula received notice of the instigation of court proceedings in Champaign County, she immediately sought help in both the Wisconsin and Illinois courts. In Wisconsin, a hearing was set for an order to show cause as to why petitioner should not be held in contempt for refusing to return T.R.W. to Lula. Petitioner had previously submitted to the jurisdiction of the Wisconsin court and had participated, to some extent, in those proceedings. In Illinois, Lula entered a special and limited appearance for purposes of alerting the court to the pending proceedings in Wisconsin.

Pursuant to statute, Judge John G. Townsend of the Champaign County circuit court discussed the matter with the Wisconsin circuit Judge presiding over the dissolution proceeding, Judge Clarence R. Parrish. Judge Parrish requested the matter be concluded in Illinois and handled entirely in Wisconsin. There followed the order from Judge Townsend dismissing the petition and ordering the return of T.R.W. to Wisconsin.

On appeal, petitioner essentially argues that only she can protect the minor child from abuse. She explains how she believes Lula has abused T.R.W. over a period of 17 months. Petitioner then states she has protected T.R.W. from further abuse through the filing of a petition in Champaign County. Petitioner has enrolled T.R. W. in a counseling program and also provided regular medical examinations for the minor. However, petitioner does not address ...


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