Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County. No. 14-FA-298. Honorable Mark R. Gerhardt, Judge, Presiding.
On appeal from the trial court's grant of respondent's motion for a directed finding against petitioner after the trial court found that it lacked authority to grant injunctive relief pursuant to section 13.5 of the Parentage Act since respondent had removed the parties' child from Illinois before petitioner filed his parentage action, the appellate court held that the trial court erred in granting respondent's motion, the trial court's judgment was reversed, and the cause was remanded with directions to consider the merits of the cause consistent with section 13.5 of the Act.
For Appellant: Jennifer J. Gibson, Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle, Crystal Lake.
For Appellee: Alex C. Wimmer, Elizabeth Felt Wakeman, Botto Gilbert Gehris Lancaster, P.C., Crystal Lake.
JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hudson and Spence concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Petitioner, Ryan Hedrich, appeals the trial court's grant of the motion of respondent, Ashley Mack, for a directed finding against petitioner. The trial court found that it lacked the authority to grant injunctive relief pursuant to section 13.5 of the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984 (Parentage Act) (750 ILCS 45/13.5 (West 2012)), because respondent removed their daughter from Illinois before petitioner filed his parentage action. On appeal, petitioner argues that the trial court's interpretation of section 13.5 was erroneous. We reverse and remand.
[¶2] I. BACKGROUND
[¶3] The following facts are not in dispute. On Friday, October 10, 2014, respondent left Illinois, where the parties had been residing together with their 18-month-old daughter, B.H., and drove petitioner's car, with B.H., to Minnesota. On October 14, 2014, petitioner filed a petition to establish paternity. Petitioner alleged that the parties had been residing together in Illinois since B.H.'s birth, on April 2, 2013. Petitioner requested that he and respondent be declared joint custodians of B.H. and that appropriate support orders be entered. Subsequently, the parties stipulated that petitioner was B.H.'s father.
[¶4] On October 29, 2014, petitioner filed an emergency petition for injunctive relief pursuant to section 13.5 of the Parentage Act. 750 ILCS 45/13.5 (West 2012). Petitioner alleged the following. Before respondent left for Minnesota with B.H., she told petitioner that she would return to Illinois with B.H. on Sunday, October 12. On Saturday, October 11, respondent's father returned petitioner's car to petitioner and informed him that respondent would not be returning to Illinois with B.H. Petitioner requested numerous times that respondent return with B.H., but respondent refused. In his petition, petitioner requested that the trial court require respondent to return with B.H. within two days and that respondent be enjoined from further removing B.H. from Illinois, pending the adjudication of the issues in the parentage action.
[¶5] At the hearing on the petition on November 13, 2014, petitioner presented evidence, including his testimony as well as that of his mother and father. After petitioner rested, respondent moved for a directed finding on the basis that the trial court lacked the authority to order the return of B.H., because she had been removed from Illinois before petitioner filed the parentage action. The trial court granted respondent's motion, finding that section 13.5 of the Parentage Act did not apply once B.H. had been removed from Illinois. The trial court stated, " the only right that could be protected by 13.5 is the right to enjoin removal, not to return a child when there was no case ...