Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 17 JA 274 Honorable
Richard A. Stevens Judge Presiding
PRESIDING JUSTICE GRIFFIN delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices Hyman and Pierce, concurred in
the judgment and opinion.
GRIFFIN PRESIDING JUSTICE
1 Respondent Levi C. was arrested and pled guilty to a charge
of domestic battery for abusing his daughter Grace C. During
the abuse and neglect proceedings, Grace C. informed the
court and her guardian ad litem that Levi C. might
not be her biological father. A paternity test was conducted
and it was determined that Levi C. is not Grace C.'s
biological father. The guardian ad litem, on behalf
of Grace C, petitioned the trial court to declare the
non-existence of a parental relationship between Levi C. and
2 Levi C. moved to dismiss Grace C.'s petition on the
basis that it was filed too late. The Illinois Parentage Act
of 2015 (750 ILCS 46/101 et seq. (West 2016))
stipulates that an action to declare the non-existence of a
parent-child relationship must be brought within 2 years of
the petitioner knowing the facts that give rise to the
petition. 750 ILCS 46/205(b) (West 2016). Levi C. argues that
because Grace C. was told by him and by her mother that Levi
C. might not be her biological father more than two years
earlier, Grace C.'s petition is barred as untimely. Like
the trial court, we reject Levi C.'s argument, and we
3 I. BACKGROUND
4 Grace C. was born July 3, 2005. Respondent Levi C. was
named as Grace C.'s father on her birth certificate. Levi
C. signed the birth certificate as an acknowledgement of
paternity. When Grace C. was three months old, her mother
left. Grace C. lived under the care and custody of Levi C.
her whole life after that point, while intermittently staying
with her mother. Grace C. and her mother have had a strained
relationship, and her mother now lives in Montana. When Grace
C. was eight or nine years old, her mother told her that Levi
C. was not her biological father. Levi C. also once mentioned
to Grace C. when she was 10 years old that he was not her
5 On March 23, 2017, officers from the Chicago Police
Department responded to a call at a liquor store. Both Grace
C. and Levi C. were present. Twelve-year-old Grace C. told
the officers that she had run away from home because Levi C.
had struck her in the face earlier that day. She told
officers that Levi C. had punched her in the back the prior
day, and that the day before that, he had whipped her with a
belt. The officer could see visible swelling on Grace
C.'s face, and they took Levi C. into custody. Levi C.
pleaded guilty to domestic battery.
6 The State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship for
Grace C. At the initial hearing on the petition for an
adjudication of wardship, a guardian ad litem was
appointed for Grace C, but Grace C. was not present. Levi C.
was, however, present and he informed the court that he was
Grace C.'s father. The trial court entered an order of
paternity in favor of Levi C. The matter proceeded through
the Juvenile Court Act process to adjudication, disposition,
and permanency hearings. Levi C. denied abusing Grace C, but
the court found that Levi C. had abused Grace C. Levi C.
began participating in therapy with DCFS's reunification
services and the trial court set a goal of returning Grace C.
to home within 12 months.
7 Almost 10 months later, the parties appeared in court for
another permanency hearing. At the hearing, Grace C. informed
the trial court judge and her guardian ad litem that
Levi C. might not be her biological father. Grace C.
requested that the trial court order paternity testing. Grace
C. indicated that she did not want visitation with Levi C.
and did not want to return home, but instead wanted to be
adopted by her foster mother. Levi C. objected to paternity
testing. Over Levi C.'s objection, the trial court
ordered paternity testing.
8 A report from DNA Diagnostic Center was filed with the
juvenile court indicating that Levi C. was not the father.
Through her guardian ad litem, Grace C. filed a
petition to declare the non-existence of a parent-child
relationship and to disestablish Levi C.'s parentage.
Levi C. filed a motion to dismiss the petition, arguing that
the petition was not timely.
9 The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 (750 ILCS 46/101 et
seq. (West 2016)) provides a process that governs
"proceedings to declare the non-existence of a
parent-child relationship." 750 ILCS 46/205 (West 2016).
The Act provides that the proceedings must be brought within
2 years of when the petitioner knew or should have known
about the facts that support the petition. 750 ILCS 46/205(b)
10 Levi C. argues that the guardian ad litem's
petition, brought on behalf of Grace C, is untimely because
Grace C. knew that Levi C. was not her father more than two
years before filing her petition. Levi C. points to Grace
C.'s own testimony in which she averred that both her
mother and Levi C. had informed her that Levi C. was not her
biological father by the time she was 10 years old. Grace C.
was 13 years old when the petition to declare the
non-existence of a parental relationship was filed on her
behalf. The trial court denied Levi C.'s motion to
dismiss the petition, and instead vacated its prior order of
paternity. The ...