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In re Marriage of Adams

June 18, 1998

IN RE: THE MARRIAGE OF ROGER C. ADAMS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE, AND L. COLLEEN ADAMS, RESPONDENT, AND L. COLLEEN ADAMS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
TIMOTHY ARNOLD, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT, AND L. COLLEEN ADAMS, PETITIONER,
v.
PAUL ROBERT ZIEGLER, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht delivered the opinion of the court:

Appeal from Circuit Court of Livingston County Nos. 96D73 96F76 96F77

Honorable Charles H. Frank, Judge Presiding.

On April 26, 1996, petitioner Roger C. Adams filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in the circuit court of Livingston County. In his petition, Roger alleged he was not the father of the two children, A.A. and K.A., born during his marriage to respondent L. Colleen Adams (Colleen). On July 9, 1996, Colleen filed two petitions to establish paternity. One petition alleged Timothy Arnold was the biological father of A.A.; the second alleged Paul Robert Ziegler was the biological father of K.A. Ziegler agreed to provide financial support for K.A. and is not a party to this appeal. In October 1996, the trial court consolidated the cases.

After a hearing, the trial court found no parent and child relationship between A.A. and Roger. The trial court, however, found a parent and child relationship existed between Arnold and A.A. and ordered Arnold to provide financial support for A.A. Arnold appeals, arguing the trial court erred by (1) failing to find Roger was estopped from ceasing to act as A.A.'s father; (2) determining Colleen's petition and the later blood tests were proper as the orders were barred by the expiration of the limitations period; and (3) failing to find Roger should remain A.A.'s father because of A.A.'s wishes and best interests. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Roger and Colleen were married in October 1982. Roger had a vasectomy and was incapable of fathering children. Roger and Colleen considered artificial insemination as a means to have children. Colleen later informed Roger she would be artificially inseminated. Colleen instead had an extramarital affair with Arnold, because she decided artificial insemination was too costly. A.A. was born on August 22, 1985.

Colleen told Roger A.A. was conceived through artificial insemination at Carle Clinic in Champaign, Illinois. She also informed Roger she paid the medical bills with a credit card. Roger testified he had no reason to believe Colleen lied about A.A.'s conception. Colleen became pregnant again in 1990. She gave birth to K.A. on October 10, 1990, as a result of an extramarital affair with Ziegler. Colleen also lied to Roger about K.A.'s conception.

Roger learned of one of Colleen's extramarital affairs in 1993 or 1994. He did not learn of the affairs with Ziegler and Arnold until December 1995. In March 1996, Colleen admitted to Roger A.A. was not conceived through artificial insemination but through an extramarital affair with Arnold. In April 1996, Roger filed a petition for the dissolution of his marriage, Livingston County case No. 96-D-73, in which he alleged he was not the father of A.A. and K.A. On July 9, 1996, Colleen filed petitions against Arnold and Ziegler to establish their paternity of A.A. and K.A., respectively, case Nos. 96-F-76 and 96-F-77.

Arnold filed a section 2-619 motion to dismiss (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 1996)), arguing the petition was barred because the relevant limitations period expired. The trial court concluded Colleen could bring the cause of action at that time and denied the motion. The causes were consolidated in October 1996.

On January 9, 1997, the trial court ordered Arnold, Colleen, and A.A. to submit to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing for the determination of inherited characteristics. The tests established a 99.99% probability Arnold was A.A.'s biological father. At a hearing on April 1, 1997, Arnold stipulated he was the biological father of A.A. The trial court concluded no parent-child relationship existed between Roger and A.A. and ordered Arnold to provide financial support for A.A. Arnold appeals.

II. ESTOPPEL

Arnold argues Roger should have been estopped from claiming he was not A.A.'s father. Arnold states Roger had always known he was not A.A.'s biological father. Arnold apparently maintains the fact A.A. was not a product of artificial insemination is inconsequential, because Roger was A.A.'s father for 10 years despite knowing A.A. was not his biological son. Arnold cites Cessna v. Montgomery, 63 Ill. 2d 71, 344 N.E.2d 447 (1976), overruled on other grounds in Dornfeld v. Julian, 104 Ill. 2d 261, 267, 472 N.E.2d 431, 433 (1984), and People ex rel. Andrews v. Andrews, 94 Ill. App. 3d 84, 418 N.E.2d 470 (1981), and maintains "a man may not assume the role of father and then discard it at his whim."

Both Cessna and Andrews involve putative fathers who provided support for their children until after the then two-year limitations period for proving the existence of a parent-child relationship expired. Cessna, 63 Ill. 2d at 87, 344 N.E.2d at 454-55; Andrews, 94 Ill. App. 3d at 85, 418 N.E.2d at 471. The Cessna court held a defendant may be estopped from asserting the expiration of the two-year limitations period as a defense in a paternity suit. To determine whether a estoppel applies, the trial court must determine whether the defendant's actions within the time period "significantly discouraged plaintiff from bringing suit until after the limitation period expired." Cessna, 63 Ill. 2d at 88, 344 N.E.2d at 455. The Andrews court, citing Cessna, held because the father's actions lulled the mother into believing a paternity suit was unnecessary, the father was estopped from using the limitations period's expiration as a defense. Andrews, 94 Ill. App. 3d at 85-86, 418 N.E.2d at 471.

This case is clearly distinguishable. Roger was not A.A.'s father, and his conduct did not prevent a timely filed paternity suit. Apparently, Arnold relies on these cases to show more generally that a defendant in a paternity suit may be estopped from asserting a lack of paternity based upon his conduct and to argue Roger should be estopped from asserting his lack of paternity. We disagree with Arnold's assertion Roger should be estopped from arguing his lack of parentage in the dissolution of marriage case. Arnold emphasizes Roger, knowing A.A. was not his biological child, raised him as his son for 10 years. Despite Arnold's apparent contentions the means of the conception of A.A. is inconsequential, we note there is a difference between artificial insemination and insemination by another man. In Illinois, when a man donates semen for artificial insemination of a woman not his wife, that man is treated as if he was not the biological father of the conceived child. 750 ILCS 40/3(a) (West 1994). A child born as a result of artificial insemination is considered the natural child of the husband and wife who requested ...


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