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05/25/89 In Re Marriage of Marla Strauss

May 25, 1989



FREDERICK J. STRAUSS, Respondent-Appellant

539 N.E.2d 808, 183 Ill. App. 3d 424, 132 Ill. Dec. 245 1989.IL.805

Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County; the Hon. Haskell M. Pitluck, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE DUNN delivered the opinion of the court. McLAREN and NASH, JJ., concur.


Respondent, Frederick Strauss, filed a petition to restrain his second wife, petitioner Marla Strauss, from initiating any contact with his three children from a prior marriage. The circuit court denied the petition and imposed sanctions against Frederick and his attorney pursuant to section 2-611 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 110, par. 2-611). We have consolidated on our own motion Frederick's separate appeals from the order denying the petition and the order imposing sanctions. With regard to the former proceeding, Frederick contends that the trial court erred in the following respects: (1) by requiring him to give notice of the proceeding to certain attorneys who represented the children in the prior divorce and allowing them to participate; (2) by denying his motion for a court-appointed psychologist; (3) by refusing to allow certain testimony concerning Marla's conduct; (4) by refusing to allow his attorney to make offers of proof concerning disallowed testimony; and (5) by ruling that he failed to establish a prima facie case for injunctive relief. With regard to the award of sanctions, Frederick contends that this award was against the manifest weight of the evidence and that the award to his minor son, Charles, was improper because Charles was not a party. We affirm the denial of Frederick's petition and dismiss the appeal from the award of sanctions.

The circuit court issued an order on November 7, 1986, dissolving the parties' marriage and reserving other issues for future determination. Six days later, Frederick filed his petition to restrain Marla from initiating contact with Charles, Kevin and Frederick, his three sons from a prior marriage. Over Frederick's objection, the trial court directed him to provide notice of the proceedings to David Stone, who had served as Charles' attorney during the prior divorce, and Richard Jones, who had been guardian ad litem for all three children during the earlier divorce. These two attorneys were allowed to participate in the hearing on the petition.

The hearing on the petition commenced on January 20, 1988, with Frederick calling Marla as an adverse witness. Marla testified she left Frederick in December 1985, subsequently returned to his home, left again in May 1986, returned for a few days in July 1986, and left for good later that month. Marla sometimes spoke to the children in church after the final separation, and they went over to her home a few times. She stated that her home was always open to the children. The trial court sustained an objection when Frederick's attorney asked Marla if she had ever discussed with Frederick's first wife, Melody, the possibility of hiring an attorney to regain custody of the children. Melody was the mother of the children. Marla admitted that in April 1986, she took the family housekeeper to the location of her new job after the housekeeper quit. Marla also allowed this woman to stay in a vacant house she owned after the woman left the second job.

The trial court continued the hearing until March 3, 1988. The trial court denied Frederick's motion that morning for a court-appointed psychologist to examine the children. Frederick then testified. He stated that when Marla left on December 14, 1985, she was aware that Frederick would be out of town for job-related reasons from December 24 to 26. Marla left anyway and told Frederick to get a babysitter. Frederick also stated that the grades of the children began to decline after he and Marla separated and that the children began missing soccer practices and spending time with Marla instead. The trial court sustained the objection of Marla's counsel when Frederick was asked if Marla's contact with the children increased at any time subsequent to the initial separation. The trial court did not permit Frederick's counsel to make an offer of proof concerning this question.

After Frederick rested, Marla's counsel moved for a directed finding. The trial Judge granted the motion, stating that no evidence was presented that Marla's contacts with the children had a detrimental effect on them. Marla's attorney and Charles' attorney both filed petitions with the court for attorney fees pursuant to section 2-611 of the Code. The trial court granted the petition following a hearing on May 5, 1988. The court awarded $3,945 to Marla and $1,985 to Charles, with Frederick's attorney, Ralph Madsen, jointly and severally liable for $625 of the award to Charles.

It is difficult to perceive any possible prejudice to Frederick from the trial court's actions in requiring Frederick to send notice of the proceedings on his petition to the guardian ad litem for the children and to Charles' attorney. The trial court denied the petition because Frederick failed to present a prima facie case for injunctive relief, not because of any evidence presented by these attorneys. Furthermore, the trial court's actions were not erroneous. Courts have inherent power to appoint a guardian ad litem for minors interested in litigation. (Pelham v. Griesheimer (1982), 92 Ill. 2d 13, 24.) If the interests of minors are not adequately represented, it is the duty of the trial court to take such a measure. Majidi v. Palmer (1988), 175 Ill. App. 3d 679, 685.

In light of the apparent hostility between the parties and the fact that the trial court's ruling on the petition would affect the children, the trial court did not err by permitting representatives of the children to participate in the hearing. The trial court's exercise of its inherent authority to protect the best interests of the minors by insuring them adequate representation was well within its discretion and did not result in prejudice to Frederick.

Frederick complains of several evidentiary rulings made by the trial court but does not cite any authority in his brief in support of his argument that the rulings were erroneous. The appellate court is not a depository in which the appellant may dump his burden of argument and research. (Williams v. Danley Lumber Co. (1984), 129 Ill. App. 3d 325.) Failure to cite pertinent authority in support of an issue raised is a violation of Supreme Court Rule 341(e)(7) (113 Ill. 2d R. 341(e)(7)) which results in waiver of the issue on appeal. (Britt v. Federal Land Bank Association (1987), 153 Ill. App. 3d 605, 608.) Frederick has waived any objection to the evidentiary rulings of the trial court. ...

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