from the Circuit Court of Du Page County No. 18-AD-61
Honorable Robert G. Gibson, Judge, Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Joseph P. O'Brien, of Opal
O'Brien LLC, of Wheaton, for appellant.
Attorneys for Appellees: Henry D. Kass, of Mirabella Kincaid
Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, of Wheaton, for appellees.
JUSTICE HUDSON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Jorgensen and Bridges concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Respondent, Paul H., appeals from an order of the circuit
court of Du Page County entering a preliminary injunction
enjoining him from any contact or visitation with his minor
biological child pending adjudication of a petition for
related adoption. For the following reasons, we affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 The record demonstrates that Paul H. and Tiffany S. are the
biological parents of T.M.H., who was born on September 9,
2011. They were never married; Paul was named on the birth
certificate. On August 13, 2012, Paul filed a complaint to
determine parentage in the circuit court of Will County. Paul
was initially granted supervised parenting time. On October
17, 2013, the parties entered into an agreed order, which set
forth an unsupervised-parenting-time schedule for Paul.
However, on November 14, 2014, the Will County circuit court
entered a parenting order that reserved parenting time for
Paul in light of his incarceration at that time and provided
that Paul may petition the court for visitation. The order
also prohibited Paul from having contact with Tiffany until
4 Tiffany married Arthur S. on June 6, 2015. On July 9, 2018,
Tiffany and Arthur filed, in the circuit court of Du Page
County, a petition for related adoption of T.M.H. The
adoption trial court appointed a guardian ad litem.
5 Subsequently, on October 17, 2018, Paul filed in the Will
County parentage case a petition to reinstate parenting time
and a motion to transfer the case to the circuit court of Du
Page County. Paul stated in the petition that he had been
incarcerated for approximately two years and was released in
July or August 2016. The parentage case was transferred to
the circuit court of Du Page County. At that point, Tiffany
and Arthur moved in the parentage case to consolidate the
parentage and adoption cases (now both pending in the circuit
court of Du Page County) and transfer the matter to the
adoption trial court. On March 21, 2019, the parentage trial
court denied the motion and appointed a guardian ad
litem in the parentage action. Tiffany and Arthur
unsuccessfully moved for a substitution of judge as of right
before the parentage trial court. Ultimately, the parentage
trial court continued all pending matters in the parentage
action to July 1, 2019, for status, including Paul's
petition to reinstate parenting time as well as his
subsequently filed motions to establish a child-support
account and to lift any communication restrictions between
him and Tiffany and require Tiffany to share information
6 Meanwhile, in the adoption proceeding, on April 26, 2019,
the guardian ad litem filed, pursuant to the trial
court's order, a memorandum of law regarding case
priority. The memorandum cited section 20 of the Adoption Act
(750 ILCS 50/20 (West 2018)), which provides that
"Proceedings under this Act shall receive priority over
other civil cases in being set for hearing." According
to the guardian ad litem's memorandum, a
parentage case is a civil case, and the adoption case would
thus take priority pursuant to this provision.
7 Next in the adoption case, on May 9, 2019, Paul filed a
motion to stay the adoption proceeding. On May 14, 2019,
Tiffany and Arthur filed a motion to stay the parentage
action or, alternatively, a verified petition to enjoin
visitation. Their petition alleged that Paul, in the past,
had (1) taken T.M.H. and his belongings from Tiffany and
refused to return him or advise of his whereabouts, (2)
repeatedly threatened Tiffany that he would take T.M.H. from
her, (3) threatened that he would "take out"
Tiffany, and (4) stated that he carries a knife and possibly
a gun and threatened that one day he would "take
out" Tiffany and her family and take T.M.H. to Mexico.
Tiffany and Arthur also alleged that Paul had pled guilty to
violating an order of protection by coming to Tiffany's
place of employment and pled guilty to a felony count of
harassing a witness (Tiffany). Tiffany and Arthur further
alleged that, as a condition of Paul's probation for
harassing a witness, Paul was ordered not to have any contact
8 On June 20, 2019, following a lengthy discussion on the
issue of case priority and the two pending matters
(Paul's motion to stay the adoption proceeding and
Tiffany's and Arthur's motion to stay the parentage
action or, alternatively, petition to enjoin visitation), the
adoption trial court stated that the two matters should be
heard in conjunction with the issue of case priority. The
adoption trial court entered an order continuing the hearing
to July 1, 2019, and providing that "[e]ither party may
file a responsive pleading within 7 days." Neither party
filed any response.
9 On July 1, 2019, following the parties' arguments, the
adoption trial court granted Tiffany's and Arthur's
petition to enjoin visitation, entered a preliminary
injunction enjoining Paul from any contact or visitation with
T.M.H. until the adoption petition is adjudicated, and
scheduled trial on the adoption petition. The adoption trial
court rejected Paul's argument that an evidentiary
hearing was required, given the lack of any response by Paul
to the petition to enjoin visitation.
10 The transcript of the hearing reflects that the court
reviewed the requisite elements for a preliminary injunction
and found that Tiffany and Arthur had met their burden on all
elements. In doing so, the court stated as follows:
"And on this record, the Court finds that there [are]
grounds here and there have been the factors established to
grant Count Two, the petition to enjoin visitation,
preliminary injunction. And it asks to enjoin [Paul] from
exercising any visitation with T.M.H. whatsoever and enjoin
[Paul] from otherwise having any contact with T.M.H.
The elements are an ascertainable claim for relief or
protectible [sic] interest. That's a threshold
issue. And there is an ascertainable ...