Pending Contempt Petition Renders Other Substantive Rulings Non-Final And Not Appealable

In a post-dissolution of marriage case, does a pending contempt petition render other substantive rulings non-final and non-appealable? Does the court have to rule on the contempt petition before the appellate court can exercise its jurisdiction over all of the rulings?

The blog entry directly below explains what happened in IRMO Gutman. Appellate jurisdiction was in question because Mary Gutman appealed rulings concerning maintenance when her contempt petition still was pending.

The appellate court ruled that the contempt petition did not raise a claim for relief in the post-dissolution action. That meant the earlier order that terminated maintenance was final and appealable. Mary’s Notice of Appeal, which was filed more than 30 days after the maintenance order, was not timely and did not invoke the appellate court’s jurisdiction. So the appeal was dismissed.

The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, but reached its decision using a rationale exactly opposite of the appellate court’s. The supreme court ruled that the pending contempt petition did raise a claim in the same action as the maintenance petitions.

Accordingly, we hold that the trial court’s order disposing of the parties’ maintenance petitions was not a final appealable order. Because Mary’s contempt petition and the two maintenance petitions raised claims for relief in the same action, the order terminating maintenance was final as to fewer than all claims in the action. Mary’s appeal, filed before the resolution of her contempt petition … was premature … A premature notice of appeal does not confer jurisdiction on the appellate court … Therefore, while we reject the reasoning of the appellate court, we affirm the appellate court’s dismissal of the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

The Illinois Supreme Court said the appeal was premature, so it dismissed Mary’s appeal. The appellate court said the appeal was late, so it dismissed the appeal. If you missed it, here’s the link to IRMO Gutman, No. 105648 (11/20/08).