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In re Marriage of Campbell

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

October 27, 2017

In re MARRIAGE OF PAMELA CAMPBELL, Petitioner-Appellant, and DONALD F. CAMPBELL, Deceased, Respondent Janet Campbell, Beneficiary-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County, No. 07-D-114 Honorable Robert E. Douglas, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Burke and Schostok concurred in the judgment and opinion.


          McLAREN JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Petitioner, Pamela Campbell, placed a lien for unpaid child support on property that was held in trust for the benefit of her ex-husband, Donald. After Donald's death, the subsequent beneficiary of the trust, Donald's mother, Janet Campbell, successfully moved to have the trial court release the lien. Pamela now appeals from the trial court's order granting the release of the lien. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 The marriage of Donald and Pamela Campbell was dissolved in 2009. Donald and Pamela were awarded joint custody of their three daughters, with residential custody awarded to Pamela. Pursuant to the judgment of dissolution, Donald was ordered to pay unallocated child support and maintenance to Pamela. In addition, Donald was to reimburse Pamela for the cost of medical insurance, which she maintained through her employment, and provide proof of life insurance with the children named as beneficiaries.

         ¶ 4 In April 2011, the trial court ordered the cessation of the unallocated child support and maintenance, pursuant to the judgment of dissolution. Donald was to pay child support for their youngest child only, in an amount to be determined at a future hearing. In addition, the reimbursement for medical insurance was to be resolved at that future date. Evidence of the required life insurance was provided.

         ¶ 5 In June 2011, the trial court set the child support obligation at $1, 012 per month, retroactive to April 1. However, the issue of reimbursement for medical insurance premiums was reserved for a future date.

         ¶ 6 In April 2012, Pamela petitioned the trial court for a rule to show cause. Donald was ordered to explain his failure to provide proof of life insurance annually and to pay child support. The trial court found Donald in contempt for failing to provide proof of life insurance to Pamela. Donald was given the opportunity to purge the contempt by bringing proof of insurance to court on May 23. However, on May 12, Pamela filed another petition for a rule to show cause, alleging that Donald had failed to (1) pay child support in the amount of $15, 005.42, (2) pay medical insurance premiums of $6, 960, (3) release some funds to help with college tuition, and (4) divide certain marital assets. Donald failed to appear at the next court date, and a writ of body attachment was issued.

         ¶ 7 Pamela then sought a temporary restraining order restraining Donald from withdrawing funds from his retirement account. She also sought payment of more than $17, 000 in past-due child support and the release of an investment account to pay for college expenses. Donald appeared in court, and the matter was set for hearing on July 20, 2012. After that hearing, Donald was purged of the contempt regarding life insurance coverage. He was also ordered to cash out certain life insurance policies for payment of college expenses; to direct that certain investments be rolled over into Pamela's account, pursuant to the marital settlement agreement; and to make reasonable efforts to find employment or pursue Social Security benefits for his mental illness. The court found that Donald owed $15, 005.42 in past-due child support.

         ¶ 8 In the meantime, Pamela recorded a lien on Donald's home at 1032 W. 32nd Street in Chicago (the property) in the amount of $24, 530 as of June 26, 2012, for unpaid child support and medical insurance. The amount would increase by $1, 265 per month. The property had been awarded to Donald in the judgment of dissolution and was the res of a Chicago Land Trust Company land trust. Pamela certified that she mailed a copy of the lien claim to Donald by certified mail, return receipt requested, on June 26.[1]

         ¶ 9 Donald died in July 2013. On November 7, 2016, Janet, as executor of his estate, filed an emergency motion to release Pamela's lien. Janet alleged that, in attempting to sell the property, she discovered Pamela's lien, which prevented the sale to a bona fide purchaser who was ready and able to buy the property. According to Janet, there was no court order finding an arrearage against Donald of $24, 530, as the lien claimed; the court had found an arrearage of only $15, 005.42 and had never entered a judgment setting an arrearage amount for Pamela to record against the property. In addition, there was no court order under which Donald was required to contribute to medical insurance premiums. Finally, Donald had made payments toward his arrearage, and a review of the child support account maintained by the Du Page County circuit court clerk for this case provided that Donald had no child support arrearage. Thus, Janet sought an order requiring Pamela to execute a release of the lien or entering a judicial release of the lien. Per the notice of motion, the case was set for November 10.

          ¶ 10 Pamela failed to appear on November 10. The trial court found that there was nothing in the court file or record indicating an arrearage of $24, 530; "at best, " the court file showed an arrearage of $15, 005.42 as of July 20, 2012. In addition, a certified child support account summary from the office of the circuit court clerk showed a zero balance owed. Therefore, the trial court granted the emergency motion. One week later, on Pamela's motion, the default order of November 10 was vacated; Pamela was given one week to respond to the emergency motion, and the case was set for hearing.

         ¶ 11 Janet filed a petition to join her as a necessary party and for leave to file an appearance, which the trial court granted on January 27, 2017. The trial court also ordered Janet to file any responsive ...

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