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In re Marriage of Sheaffer

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

July 23, 2013

In re MARRIAGE OF LINDA SHEAFFER, Petitioner-Appellee, and ROBERT SHEAFFER, Respondent-Appellant.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 08-D-253 Honorable Paul A. Marchese, Judge, Presiding.

JUSTICE HUDSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hutchinson and Schostok concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

HUDSON JUSTICE

¶ 1 Respondent, Robert Sheaffer, appeals from an order permanently enjoining him from requesting any adjustment from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to his child-support arrearage as determined by an order entered by the trial court on November 30, 2010. We affirm.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 In February 2008, petitioner, Linda Sheaffer, began dissolution-of-marriage proceedings. The record is lengthy, shows that the proceedings were contentious, and includes multiple orders concerning child support. In October 2009, HFS sought to intervene to have the trial court establish child support and allow for HFS enforcement. On September 17, 2010, the trial court dissolved the marriage, and on November 30, 2010, the trial court determined that respondent was $21, 189.12 in arrears on his child support as of September 17, 2010. There was no motion to reconsider and no appeal of that order.

¶ 4 In September 2011, HFS notified respondent of its intent to collect the past-due child support. Respondent contested the calculation of the amount past due and, on November 29, 2011, HFS sent respondent a notice stating that it had credited his child-support arrearage by the amount of $4, 082.40. The notice stated that petitioner had been mailed an "Affidavit of Direct Child Support Payments" that asked if she agreed with the amount. The notice also provided information about respondent's ability to appeal by requesting a hearing.

¶ 5 On May 18, 2012, HFS sent a letter to petitioner notifying her that respondent had scheduled a hearing for June 26, 2012. On May 31, 2012, petitioner's attorney sent a letter to HFS, describing the November 30, 2010, order and informing HFS of his belief that the trial court had exclusive jurisdiction over the matter.

¶ 6 On June 5, 2012, petitioner filed a motion seeking injunctive relief. She alleged that respondent was attempting to modify the trial court's November 30, 2010, order despite the trial court's exclusive jurisdiction over the matter. Respondent filed an answer in which he alleged that the trial court's November 30, 2010, order had clear errors. Respondent then pointed to various calculations and materials that he believed were in error, stating that these showed a necessity for HFS to calculate the amount that it could recover. At a hearing on the motion, respondent also presented evidence about his belief that the calculations were in error.

¶ 7 On June 11, 2012, the trial court enjoined respondent from seeking to modify the November 30, 2010, order before any administrative agency and from seeking a redetermination of any arrearage prior to September 17, 2010, or any child support ordered before June 11, 2012. The court also denied respondent's request for a bond. Respondent moved to vacate. The court reconsidered the matter but reached the same conclusion that an injunction was warranted and ordered that the injunction be permanent. Respondent appeals.

¶ 8 II. ANALYSIS

¶ 9 Respondent contends that the trial court improperly granted the injunction, arguing that petitioner did not prove the four prerequisites for a preliminary injunction.

¶ 10 " 'To justify entry of a preliminary injunction, the moving party carries the burden of persuasion on four issues: (1) he or she possesses a clearly ascertainable right which needs protection; (2) he or she will suffer irreparable injury without the injunction; (3) there is no adequate remedy at law for his or her injury; and (4) a likelihood of success on the merits exists.' " In re Marriage of Davenport, 388 Ill.App.3d 988, 991 (2009) (quoting In re Marriage of Petersen, 319 Ill.App.3d 325, 336 (2001)). "The decision to grant or deny a preliminary injunction rests within the sound discretion of the trial court, and the decision will not be disturbed on review absent an abuse of discretion." Id. "[W]e can only find an abuse of discretion where no reasonable person could agree with the trial court's decision." Shaw v. St. John's Hospital, 2012 IL App (5th) 110088, ¶ 18.

¶ 11 "It is well settled in Illinois that courts have the power to issue injunctions restraining the parties before them from filing or proceeding with related actions in other courts, in order to prevent the maintenance of vexatious and harassing litigation." In re Marriage of Gary, 384 Ill.App. 3D 979, 983 (2008). "The prosecution of a later-filed suit also may be enjoined if it appears likely to cause undue interference with the progress of the original action." Id. Indeed, a litigant seeking to enjoin later-filed actions in other Illinois courts need not demonstrate the existence of the factors for typical injunctions and may obtain an injunction where: (1) either the parties and the legal issues involved are the same or the issues involved in the later-filed action are of the type that can and ...


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