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Mattmuller v. Mattmuller

February 6, 2003

MELISSA MATTMULLER, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
DWIGHT MATTMULLER, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 98-F-541 Honorable Ellar Duff, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Chapman

The parties, Dwight and Melissa Mattmuller, were married in 1980. An Indiana court dissolved their marriage in 1996. Included in the Indiana dissolution order were provisions relating to the custody of the three minor children, visitation, and child support. Dwight's employer transferred him, temporarily, to New Mexico in 1997. Melissa moved with the children to Illinois in 1998. Thereafter, she registered the Indiana dissolution judgment in Illinois and filed a petition to modify visitation and child support. Dwight filed his own petition to modify visitation and child support in Indiana, over which the Indiana court declined jurisdiction. He then filed a petition to modify custody in Illinois. While the parties' petitions were pending, Dwight returned to Indiana and Melissa moved with the children to Wisconsin. The trial court granted Melissa's petition to modify child support but deferred all remaining issues to the Indiana court that had dissolved the Mattmullers' marriage. Dwight appeals, arguing Illinois lacked subject matter jurisdiction to rule on Melissa's petition pursuant to provisions of the federal Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act (Full Faith and Credit Act) (28 U.S.C. §1738B (1994 & Supp. 1999)). We affirm the trial court's ruling.

I. BACKGROUND

The Mattmullers married in 1980. Three children were born during the marriage: Christina (born July 21, 1985), Tyler (born July 24, 1987), and Adam (born March 3, 1989). An Indiana trial court dissolved the parties' marriage on July 15, 1996. The dissolution order granted physical custody of the three children to Melissa and ordered Dwight to pay child support. In November 1997, Dwight moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, but returned to LaFayette, Indiana, in June 1999. In January 1998, Melissa moved to Collinsville, Illinois, with the three children. She later moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On October 8, 1998, the Indiana trial court granted Melissa's motion to dismiss all pending motions to modify the dissolution order.

On November 19, 1998, Melissa filed a petition to enroll the Indiana judgment in Illinois and a petition to modify child support and visitation in the circuit court in Madison County, Illinois. On January 15, 1999, Dwight filed a motion for a continuance and an objection to the Illinois trial court's personal jurisdiction pursuant to section 2-301 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-301 (West 1998)).

On February 25, 1999, the Madison County trial court denied Dwight's motion. The court found that it had personal jurisdiction over Dwight by virtue of his children's residence within the State of Illinois and that his objections to Illinois's jurisdiction over him could be resolved by applying Indiana law. The court further ruled that Dwight's compliance with discovery orders would not constitute a waiver of his objection to personal jurisdiction.

On May 7, 1999, Dwight filed a petition to modify child support and visitation and a petition for the court to assume exclusive jurisdiction with the circuit court in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Melissa filed a motion to dismiss for inconvenient forum. On June 24, 1999, the Indiana trial court entered an order finding that Indiana was an inconvenient forum, granting Melissa's motion to dismiss, and denying Dwight's petition to assume exclusive jurisdiction. The court declined to exercise jurisdiction in the matter and deferred the action to the Madison County court. Dwight did not appeal this ruling.

On July 7, 1999, Dwight, who had by this time returned to Indiana, filed a petition to modify custody in Madison County. He requested primary physical custody of the parties' eldest daughter, Christina, who had expressed a desire to reside with her father and attend high school in LaFayette.

On February 1, 2000, Dwight filed a motion to dismiss Melissa's modification petition in Madison County. He argued that Illinois lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the proceeding. He argued that, pursuant to section 611 of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (750 ILCS 22/611 (West 1998)), Illinois lacks subject matter jurisdiction to modify child support where the obligor has never been a resident of the state and that the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (750 ILCS 35/1 through 26 (West 1998)), upon which the trial court based its jurisdiction, applies only to issues involving custody, not support.

On April 10, 2000, the Madison County trial court entered an order denying Dwight's motion to dismiss and ruling that an increase in child support was appropriate. Because the appropriate amount of support would be affected by the outcome of Dwight's still-pending petition to modify the custody of Christina, the court reserved the entry of a specific order on child support; however, the court did make factual findings and determined the manner in which the specific amount of child support would be calculated.

On June 29, 2000, Melissa filed a petition to remove the children to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On July 5, 2000, the trial court entered an order granting Melissa's petition to remove. In the same order, the court deferred to the Indiana court determination of the pending custody and visitation issues, as well as any future support modifications necessitated by Melissa's move to Wisconsin. The court, however, retained jurisdiction to enter a final order on the support-modification issue that it had already partially resolved and ruled upon. On August 23, 2000, the court entered a final order increasing support retroactive to January 1, 1999, and directing the parties to register the order in the Tippecanoe County, Indiana, superior court.

On August 25, 2000, Dwight filed a motion to reconsider the Madison County court's July 5 order. In it, he raised the Full Faith and Credit Act for the first time. The court denied Dwight's motion on October 12, 2000. This appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS

A. The Full Faith and ...


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