[UPDATED THROUGH September 12, 2016]
In re M.I.
Supreme Court Case Number: 120232
Appellate Court: Third District
Appellate Court Case Number: 3-15-0403
Issue Presented: Is it grounds for termination of parental rights based upon the parent’s failure to make reasonable progress toward the return of the child and failure to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility where the undisputed evidence was that the parent allegedly had an extremely low I.Q. and the State failed to provide a service plan for him?
Summary of Facts and Lower Court Holdings: Following the filing of a petition for wardship in 2010, the trial court found the child to be a neglected minor and made her a ward of the court. The trial court required the child’s father to cooperate with the Department of Children and Family Services, complete a drug and alcohol assessment, participate in drug tests and take a parenting class. An integrated assessment in November 2013 concluded that the father lacked the ability to parent. The State filed a petition to terminate the father’s parental rights in May 2014. The trial court concluded that services could not be modified for the father given his unwillingness to consistently show up for appointments, and that he had not made reasonable progress over a nine-month period. A termination order was entered. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that failure to complete tasks which are apparently beyond a parent’s intellectual capacity is the same was willfully failing to comply, and noted that the State had not alleged the father’s intellectual incapacity as grounds for the termination. The Appellate Court majority wrote that the State had “abandoned a parent . . . to navigate the community social services network on his own and used his inability to do so as a grounds to terminate his parental rights.” Justice Schmidt dissented.
In re Marriage of Tuke (Heroy)
Supreme Court Case Number: 120205
Appellate Court: First District, Division One
Appellate Court Case Number: 1-13-0290-U
Issues Presented: (1) Did the former husband in a domestic relations case meet his burden of showing a substantial change in circumstances sufficient to justify a modification of an earlier permanent maintenance award? (2) May one former spouse be ordered to contribute towards the attorneys fees of the other based upno a showing solely of his superior financial position, as opposed to evidence of the other former spouse’s inability to pay?
Summary of Facts and Lower Court Holdings: An initial judgment of dissolution of the parties’ marriage was entered by the circuit court in 2006, together with an award of permanent maintenance. In 2009, the former husband filed a modification petition seeking termination or modification of the former wife’s permanent maintenance award. In 2012, the trial court issued its judgment establishing a modified permanent maintenance award. The court also directed the former husband to contribute towards the former wife’s attorney fees. The former husband moved for reconsideration, but the trial court “essentially reiterated its original order.” On appeal, the Appellate Court rejected the former husband’s argument that the trial court should have further reduced or entirely eliminated the maintenance award pursuant to the statutory requirement to consider the former wife’s efforts to become financially self-supporting, holding that the trial court’s finding that her efforts were reasonable was not an abuse of discretion. The Appellate Court held that the trial court had made a calculation error, noting that the court had commented that it wanted to enter a modified order providing for permanent maintenance of 25% of the former husband’s cash flow. Finally, the Court reversed the order to the extent it required the former husband to contribute to the former wife’s attorneys’ fees, holding that the proper standard was whether one party had proven an inability to pay, not whether the other party had superior resources.