1. First District changes opinion on proper timing of post-judgment appeals. Former husband appealed from the trial court’s orders resolving several post-judgment matters while some issues remained pending in the trial court. The First District held that despite its previous holdings, the progeny of Supreme Court cases speaking to when an appellate court has proper jurisdiction over post-judgment appeals required it to depart from its prior rulings and apply the language of Rule 304(a). Because there were claims for attorneys’ fees still pending in the trial court and the trial court did not enter the finding required to confer jurisdiction on the Appellate Court, the appeal was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Rule 304(a) applies where the parties present multiple claims; the trial court enters a judgment on at least one of those claims; and that judgment on the claim is final. The Court analyzed the Supreme Court cases of In re the Marriage of Leopando, 96 Ill.2d 114 (1983), In re Custody of Purdy, 112 Ill.2d 1 (1986), and In re the Marriage of Gutman, 232 Ill.2d 145 (2009) and acknowledged the split in authority among the districts regarding whether multiple post-judgment claims are part of one overall claim, or are separate claims in and of themselves. Prior to this case, the First District had generally held that no Rule 304(a) finding was required to appeal from an order disposing of one of several post-judgment matters so long as the matters still pending below were unrelated to the matter on appeal. However, in dicta the Court stated that when a party files one post-judgment petition, several more are likely to follow and allowing parties to appeal after each claim is resolved would put great strain on the Appellate Court’s docket and impose an unnecessary burden on the litigants. Therefore, a final order disposing of one of several pending post-judgment claims may not be appealed without an express finding from the trial court that there is no just cause for delay. This holding also comports with the authority in the Second and Fourth Districts. In re Marriage of Teymour and Mostafa, 2017 IL App (1st) 161091.
2. Companion animal bill to take effect January 1, 2018. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Sections 5/452, 5/501, 5/502 and 5/503 will be amended beginning on January 1, 2018 to include provisions for the temporary and permanent allocation or possession of a companion animal. The bill specifically excludes service animals as defined by Section 2.01c of the Humane Care for Animals Act. The bill also provides that the parties may enter into an agreement allocating the sole or joint ownership of or responsibility for a companion animal. If the court finds that the companion animal of the parties is a marital asset, it shall allocate the sole or joint ownership of and responsibility for the animal. The court is simply to take into account the well-being of the companion animal when issuing such an order. A full copy of the bill is located here: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=100-0422
3. Collaborative Law Act to take effect January 1, 2018. The Act formally recognizes the use of the collaborative law model specifically for family law cases. The statute states that the collaborative process will occur after the parties sign a collaborative process participation agreement which provides in pertinent part that the parties who sign the agreement agree to discharge their collaborative lawyers (including the entire law firm) in the event the collaborative process fails. The Act specifically states that it applies to the following cases: marriage, divorce, dissolution, annulment, legal separation, property distribution, significant decision making and parenting time of children, maintenance and child support, adoption, parentage, and premarital, marital and post-marital agreements. The full statute can be found here: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/100/PDF/100-0205.pdf
4. HFS Website Includes Child Support Estimator with Mobile Phone Capabilities. In order to assist attorneys and litigants with the calculation of child support based on the Illinois’ new income shares model, HFS’ website now includes a child support estimator. After clicking on the estimator tab, two options are available: (1) one for parents and (2) one for attorneys or other professionals. The Attorney Tab allows you to input certain facts and figures to help calculate child support. Also, there is a link in the Attorney Tab which will allow a professional to use a QR code reader to download a simplified version on his or her mobile phone for quick calculations in court. https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/ChildSupport/parents/Pages/IncomeShares.aspx