In re GUARDIANSHIP OF DENISE RAE SANDERS, a Disabled Person, (Susan Sanders, Petitioner-Appellee,
Leon R. Sanders, Respondent-Appellant, Curtis W. Myers, Guardian Ad Litem-Appellee).
from Circuit Court of Livingston County No. 12P8 Honorable
Robert M. Travers, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Holder White and Knecht concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 In December 2015 Susan Sanders filed a motion for
contribution, requesting that the trial court order her
former husband, respondent, Leon Sanders, to contribute money
to support the parties' adult disabled daughter, Denise
2 After a May 2016 hearing, the trial court ordered Leon to
contribute $350 a week to Susan in support of Denise. The
court stated that it drew its authority to make such an award
from the Probate Act of 1975 (Probate Act) (755 ILCS 5/1-1 to
30-3 (West 2014)).
3 Leon appeals. We hold that section 513.5 of the Illinois
Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Dissolution Act)
(750 ILCS 5/513.5 (West Supp. 2015)) grants trial courts the
authority to order support for an adult nonminor child with a
disability. Moreover, in proceedings under the Probate Act,
the trial court may look to the support provision in the
Dissolution Act in a proceeding such as this. Accordingly, we
vacate the trial court's particular award in this case
and remand for a new determination of support, with
consideration of the factors provided by section 513.5(b) of
the Dissolution Act (750 ILCS 5/513.5(b) (West Supp. 2015)).
4 I. BACKGROUND
5 In January 2012, Susan filed a petition for appointment of
guardianship in Livingston County case No. 12-P-8, asking the
trial court to appoint her as guardian to her daughter,
Denise (born March 2, 1994). The petition alleged that Denise
would become an adult in March 2012 and was not fully capable
of managing her estate or her person. Susan requested that
the court (1) adjudge Denise a disabled person and (2)
appoint Susan guardian of Denise's estate and person. In
September 2012, the court entered an order adjudicating
Denise a disabled adult and appointing Susan as the plenary
guardian of Denise's estate and person.
6 In December 2015, Susan filed a "Motion for
Contribution To Support of Disabled Adult." In it, Susan
alleged that Leon was Denise's father, who had been
ordered to provide child support to Susan under a previous
order entered as part of the dissolution of Susan and
Leon's marriage. Susan argued that support was authorized
by section 513 of the Dissolution Act (750 ILCS 5/513 (West
7 At a May 2016 hearing on Susan's motion for
contribution, Leon testified about the income he received
from the sole proprietorship electrician business he
operated. Susan testified that she worked as a secretary in a
law office, where she earned approximately $40, 000 per year.
Susan testified further that Denise lived with her and did
not receive any government benefits. Susan received
approximately $147 a week from Leon, which is the amount Leon
was paying as child support before Denise became an adult.
Susan testified that she and Denise were able to survive on
Susan's income plus what she received from Leon.
8 After the close of evidence, the trial court found that
Leon earned approximately $170, 000 in annual personal
income. The court mused about whether it could award
contribution to Susan to support Denise. The court concluded
that, although the Dissolution Act authorized support for
Denise, the court could not utilize that authority because
the current proceeding was a guardianship proceeding and not
a dissolution proceeding. That is, Denise's petition was
filed in case No. 12-P-8, the probate case. (The parties were
divorced in Grundy County case No. 98-D-178. Sanders v.
Sanders, No. 3-01-0527 (May 31, 2002) (unpublished order
under Supreme Court Rule 23).) Instead, the court decided
that it could order support pursuant to its "inherent
powers" under the Probate Act, so long as the court
found that ordering support was in Denise's best
interests. The court then struggled to decide what criteria
should be used to determine the amount of support Susan
should receive. The court determined that the child support
standards of the Dissolution Act did not apply to the current
proceedings. The court eventually ordered Leon to contribute
$350 per week to Susan.
9 This appeal followed.
10 II. ANALYSIS
11 Leon argues that (1) the trial court lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction to enter the order awarding Susan support and,
alternatively, (2) the court failed to properly consider the
factors provided by section 513.5(b) of the Dissolution Act
(750 ILCS 5/513.5(b) (West Supp. 2015)) when awarding support
to Susan. Susan has not filed a responding brief, but
attorney Curtis W. Myers, who served as guardian ad
litem (GAL) in these proceedings, has. He responds that
the trial court (1) had subject-matter jurisdiction to order