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Hall v. Melton

April 16, 2001


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice McNULTY

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Melvin J. Cole, Judge Presiding

This case, concerning the support for and visitation with Bremen Hall Melton, comes before us for a second time. During the pendency of the prior interlocutory appeal, the trial court modified its initial support and visitation order, and then the court punished Bremen's mother, Lynn Hall, for contemptuously violating the visitation order. Lynn appeals.

In April 1998 Lynn filed a petition to establish parentage and for child support, naming Brace Melton as Bremen's father. The trial court entered an agreed order on April 12, 1999, temporarily awarding Lynn child support and custody, and granting Brace supervised visitations.

Lynn then petitioned for leave to remove Bremen from Illinois to reside with her in Vermont. On April 27, 1999, the court entered an order enjoining her from removing the child from Illinois. Lynn appealed. During the pendency of that appeal, Lynn petitioned to modify support and visitation.

On January 19, 2000, the court modified the prior visitation and support. The new order permitted Brace to have visitation with Bremen for almost two days every time Brace had two days off from work. The order specified the hour for picking up and dropping off Bremen, and added that "Bremen shall be picked up or dropped off at the scheduled times at either Lynn's residence or *** the babysitter's residence."

The court ordered Brace to pay $140 per week for child support, plus $100 per week as Brace's contribution to daycare expenses. The order required Lynn to provide Brace with a copy of each check paid to the daycare provider, and if Lynn paid less than $200 for any week, she needed to refund to Brace half of the difference between $200 and the amount paid.

This court filed its opinion in the first appeal on May 30, 2000. In re Parentage of Melton, 314 Ill. App. 3d 476, 732 N.E.2d 11 (2000). We held that the court lacked authority to enjoin Lynn from removing Bremen from the state. Before the mandate returned all jurisdiction to the trial court, Brace petitioned for a rule to show cause and for termination of daycare payments. Brace alleged that Lynn and Bremen moved out of state and Lynn had not returned Bremen for scheduled visitation. He also alleged that since she moved she provided no proof of daycare expenses.

At the hearing held on June 12, 2000, Lynn's attorney requested time to respond prior to entry of the rule to show cause. The court denied the request. Finding the petition stated a prima facie case for contempt, the court entered the rule to show cause and set a hearing for June 28, 2000. The court also gave Lynn a week to move to dismiss the rule and to respond to the motion to terminate daycare payments.

Lynn's attorney moved to dismiss the rule and the motion for want of jurisdiction, based on the lack of a mandate from the appellate court. The trial court held that it had jurisdiction to enforce the visitation and support order dated January 19, 2000. The court reiterated that Lynn could respond to the contempt allegations at the hearing set for June 28. In a separate order dated June 19, 2000, the court found Lynn no longer needed daycare for Bremen, so the court terminated the daycare payments required by the January order. Lynn filed a notice of appeal, listing the orders of June 12 and June 19 as the orders challenged.

Lynn did not attend the hearing on June 28, 2000. Her attorney again argued that the court lacked jurisdiction, but now she added that the new notice of appeal further established the lack of jurisdiction. She also argued that the termination of daycare payments constituted a sanction for contempt. The court rejected both arguments.

Brace testified that he last saw Bremen on June 2, 2000. He detailed his efforts to contact Lynn and have scheduled visitation with Bremen. He did not see Bremen for the further visits scheduled in June. On cross-examination Bremen admitted that he had not gone to Lynn's new home in Vermont to pick up Bremen for scheduled visits. Lynn presented no witnesses.

The court found Lynn in contempt and set July 6, 2000, as the date for a hearing on the imposition of sanctions.

Again on July 6, Lynn did not attend the hearing. The court committed her to jail until she complied with the visitation order. The court stayed the order for six days to give Lynn the opportunity to purge herself of the contempt. Lynn amended her notice of appeal to include the June 28 order holding ...

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