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Klak v. Skellion

November 29, 2000

MARY KLAK, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
LARRY SKELLION, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook Count No. 99 D5 69021 Honorable Susan Snow, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hall

Not Released For Publication.

MARY KLAK, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
LARRY SKELLION, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook Count No. 99 D5 69021 Honorable Susan Snow, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hall

BACKGROUND

 This case involves an interlocutory appeal, brought by Larry Skellion (respondent), from an order entered in the circuit court of Cook County. Mary Klak, a 17-year-old minor (petitioner), petitioned the circuit court to declare a parent-child relationship between herself and respondent pursuant to the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (the Act) (750 ILCS 45/1 et seq.) (West 1998). *fn1 The circuit court found that petitioner was entitled to pursue this legal proceeding in her own name without a parent or other guardian. The question of law presented in this appeal, as stated by the circuit court in its December 13, 1999, order is: "Whether a child under the age of 18 may file a Petition to Determine the Existence of a Parent and Child Relationship on her or his own behalf without guardian, next best friend, etc." For the reasons that follow, we answer the circuit court's certified question in the negative.

The following facts are relevant to this appeal. Respondent and petitioner's biological mother, Jacqueline Klak, had an ongoing sexual relationship from 1980 to April of 1982. Petitioner was born on July 9, 1982, in Cook County, Illinois. On August 3, 1999, petitioner filed a petition, in her name, to establish the existence of a father-child relationship between herself and respondent. Additionally, petitioner sought "funds or resources to provide for her reasonable needs, including support, maintenance, and educational expenses." Petitioner was 17 years old when she filed her action against respondent. Petitioner is represented by counsel and no guardian ad litem has been appointed. On September 16, 1999, respondent filed his motion for involuntary dismissal pursuant to section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure, claiming that petitioner is a minor and does not have the legal capacity to initiate a civil cause of action in her own name. 735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 1998). On November 29, 1999, respondent's motion was denied, and it was ordered that petitioner was entitled to proceed on her own behalf without a parent or other guardian. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308 (155 Ill. 2d R. 308), this court granted respondent leave to appeal. This appeal followed.

ANALYSIS

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

On interlocutory appeal, the scope of review is limited to the question of law certified by the circuit court. Teverbaugh v. Moore, 311 Ill. App. 3d 1, 3, 724 N.E.2d 225 (2000), citing Kincaid v. Smith, 252 Ill. App. 3d 618, 623, 625 N.E.2d 750 (1993); In re Detention of Anders, 304 Ill. App. 3d 117, 120, 710 N.E.2d 475 (1999). Our review is de novo. Weatherman v. Gary-Wheaton Bank of Fox Valley, N.A., 186 Ill. 2d 472, 480, 713 N.E.2d 543 (1999).

II. CERTIFIED QUESTION

In the instant appeal, the legal question presented raises an issue of first impression. Our research has uncovered no case in which an unemancipated child has filed a parentage action on her own behalf without a parent or other guardian. *fn2 The question, therefore, which concerns us is whether a child under the age of 18 may file a petition to determine the existence of a parent and child relationship on her or his own behalf without a guardian or next friend.

Respondent contends that the circuit court erred in failing to dismiss petitioner's action because she is a minor and cannot initiate or pursue a civil action in her own name. Respondent also contends that, as a minor, petitioner must bring the action by a guardian or next friend. Petitioner contends that the Act allows a minor child to ...


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