Appeal from Circuit Court of Edgar County No. 11F16 Honorable Matthew L. Sullivan, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook
JUSTICE COOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Appleton and Knecht concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 In 2001, petitioner, Heather L. Board, accused respondent, Bradley A. Entrican, of being the father of her son, H.L.B. On April 18, 2001, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (Department) entered a default order of paternity against Bradley.On January 18, 2012, Bradley filed a petition to declare the nonexistence of a parent-child relationship under section 7(b-5) of the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (Parentage Act) (750 ILCS 45/7(b-5) (West 2010)). Heather and theDepartmenteach filed a motion for involuntary dismissal of the petition under section 2-619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2010)). The trial court granted the motions, finding that (1) Bradley did not have standing to file the action, (2) the action was barred by the running of the statute of limitations, and (3) the action was barred as a matter of res judicata. Bradley appealed, and we affirm.
¶ 3 On September 15, 1999, Heather gave birth to H.L.B. Prior to H.L.B.'s birth, Heather had been involved in a sexual relationship with Bradley. Heather and Bradley were never married.
¶ 4 On March 17, 2001, the Department served Bradley with a notice of alleged paternity and support obligation. The notice provided that Bradley had been identified by Heather as H.L.B.'s father. The notice also stated that Bradley must attend an interview with the Department on April 18, 2001. Finally, the notice warned that if Bradley failed to appear for the scheduled interview he may be "LEGALLY DECLARED TO BE THE FATHER OF THE CHILD NAMED IN THIS NOTICE AND ORDERED TO PAY SUPPORT FOR THE CHILD FROM BIRTH UNTIL THE CHILD IS AT LEAST 18 YEARS OLD."
¶ 5 On April 18, 2001, Bradley failed to appear for the scheduled interview. As a result, theDepartment entered an administrative paternity order finding Bradley in default and adjudicating him H.L.B.'s legal father.
¶ 6 On May 30, 2001, Bradley sent a letter to the Department appealing the default order and requesting genetic testing. The Department offered Bradley genetic testing and, as a result, he withdrew his appeal.
¶ 7 On approximately June 12, 2001, Bradley signed an agreement to be bound by the results of genetic testing (hereinafter referred to as the 2001 agreement).The 2001 agreement provided that if the genetic testing results showed a combined paternity index of at least 500 to 1, then the Departmentwouldenter an administrative paternity order finding Bradley to be H.L.B.'s father. However, if Bradley failed to appear for the scheduled genetic testing, then the Departmentwould enter an administrative paternity order finding him to be the father by default.
¶ 8 On July 7, 2001, the Department mailed Bradley an administrative order for genetic testing. The order stated that the testing was to be performed on July 17, 2001, at the National Guard Armory in Paris, Illinois.
¶ 9 On July 17, 2001, Heather and H.L.B. appeared for the scheduled genetic testing, but Bradley failed to appear.As a result, the April 18, 2001, administrative paternity order adjudicating Bradley as H.L.B.'s father remained in effect and Bradley began paying child support.
¶ 10 On November 17, 2004, Bradley filed a petition to determine parentage in Edgar County case No. 04-F-33. In response, the Department intervenedand filed a motion for involuntary dismissal under section 2-619 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619 (West 2010)). On January 12, 2005, the trial court dismissed the petition on the basis of res judicata. The court found that the administrative paternity order issued by the Department on April 18, 2001, established Bradley as H.L.B.'s father.
¶ 11 In summer 2011, Bradley met H.L.B. for the first time. After the meeting, Bradley requested that Heather present H.L.B. for a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) test performed by DNA Diagnostics Center. On August 23, 2011, Heather voluntarily presented H.L.B. for the DNA test. The test results indicated that Bradley was not H.L.B.'s natural father because the probability of his paternity was zero.
¶ 12 On January 18, 2012, Bradley filed a petition to establish the nonexistence of a parent-child relationship under section 7(b-5) of the Parentage Act (750 ILCS 45/7(b-5) (West 2010)). Bradley alleged that the genetic testing performed on August 23, 2011, excluded the possibility that he is H.L.B.'s father. He also sought the vacatur of any Department or court orders regarding future child support payments.
¶ 13 In response, on January 26, 2012, the Department filed a motion for involuntary dismissal under section 2-619 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(4), (a)(5) (West 2010)). The Department alleged that Bradley's petition was barred by the following: (1) res judicata due to the administrative paternity order entered on April 18, 2001; (2) res judicata under the terms of the January 12, 2005, order entered in Edgar County case No. 04-F-33; and (3) the running of the applicable statute of limitations. The Department further claimed that Bradley ...