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Jennifer B. v. King

August 17, 2001

IN RE PARENTAGE OF M.C.B, A MINOR
(JENNIFER B., PETITIONER-APPELLANT
v.
LESLIE A. KING, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE)



Appeal from the Circuit Court of De Kalb County. No. 98-F-20 Honorable Kurt P. Klein, Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Geiger

UNPUBLISHED

The petitioner, Jennifer B., appeals from the October 4, 1999, order of the circuit court of De Kalb County requiring the respondent, Leslie King, to pay her $700 in attorney fees. On appeal, the petitioner argues that the trial court erred in (1) failing to order the respondent to pay all of the $2,018.52 in attorney fees she incurred in seeking the enforcement of a prior order; and (2) allowing the respondent to pay the judgment in installments.

On March 27, 1998, the petitioner filed a petition seeking to establish that the respondent was the father of her minor child, M.C.B., and requesting that he be ordered to pay child support. The respondent subsequently admitted paternity. On December 29, 1998, the trial court entered an order requiring the respondent to pay $210.51 per week in child support and day care for M.C.B.

On January 25, 1999, the petitioner filed a petition for attorney fees incurred in prosecuting the paternity petition. On April 12, 1999, the trial court entered an order requiring the respondent to contribute $1,200 toward the petitioner's attorney fees. The respondent was allowed to pay this amount in installments of $100 per month.

On June 8, 1999, the petitioner filed a petition for a rule to show cause and attorney fees. The petition alleged that the respondent had failed to make any payments as required by the April 12, 1999, order and was currently $200 in arrears.

On August 19, 1999, the trial court found the respondent in indirect civil contempt for his failure to make the payments required by the April 12, 1999, order. On September 3, 1999, the trial court subsequently discharged the finding of contempt after the petitioner paid all the amounts owing.

On September 22, 1999, the petitioner filed another petition for a rule to show cause and attorney fees. The petition alleged that the respondent was $100 in arrears for the payments he was required to make under the April 12, 1999, order.

On September 28, 1999, the trial court entered an order requiring the respondent to immediately pay to the petitioner the entire remaining balance on the April 12, 1999, judgment. On that same day, the petitioner filed a petition for attorney fees that she had incurred in seeking the enforcement of the trial court's April 12, 1999 order. This petition included an itemized list of $2,018.52 in attorney fees and costs.

On October 4, 1999, following a hearing on the petitioner's petition for attorney fees, the trial court entered judgment on behalf of the petitioner in the amount of $700. The trial court further ordered that the respondent pay this amount within four months. The trial court declined to require the respondent to pay the entire $2,018.52, finding that $700 was all the respondent was able to pay. Following the denial of her motion to reconsider, the petitioner filed this timely notice of appeal.

Before addressing the merits of the petitioner's appeal, we note that the respondent has failed to file a brief. However, because the issues presented are relatively straightforward, we will nonetheless decide this case without an appellee's brief. See First Capitol Mortgage Corp. v. Talandis Construction Corp., 63 Ill. 2d 128, 133 (1976).

The petitioner's first contention on appeal is that the trial court erred in not awarding her all of the $2,018.52 in attorney fees she incurred in seeking the enforcement of the trial court's April 12, 1999, order. The petitioner contends that, under section 508(b) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (the Dissolution Act) (750 ILCS 5/508(b) (West 1998)), an award of these fees was mandatory.

Under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (750 ILCS 45/1 et seq. (West 1998)), a party has the right to petition for attorney fees and the right to seek the enforcement of any such award. 750 ILCS 45/15, 17 (West 1998). If a party incurs additional attorney fees in seeking to enforce a prior order of the trial court, that party is to be awarded his or her attorney fees under the same standard as provided for under section 508(b) of the Dissolution Act (750 ILCS 5/508(b) (West 1998)). Davis v. Sprague, 186 Ill. App. 3d 249, 252-53 (1989). Section 508(b) provides in pertinent part:

"In every proceeding for the enforcement of an order or judgment when the court finds that the failure to comply with the order or judgment was without compelling cause or justification, the court shall order the party against whom the proceeding is brought to pay promptly the costs and ...


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