Patel v. Sines–Patel

Decision Date28 June 2013
Docket NumberDocket No. 1–11–2571.
Citation373 Ill.Dec. 503,2013 IL App (1st) 112571,993 N.E.2d 1062
PartiesIn re MARRIAGE OF Sunil A. PATEL, Petitioner–Appellee, and Amy E. SINES–PATEL, Respondent–Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

William J. Arendt and Nicola K.B. Latus, both of William J. Arendt & Associates, P.C., of Burr Ridge, for appellant.

Diane M. Panos, of Panos & Associates, LLC, of Palos Heights, for appellee Sunil A. Patel.

John A. Coladarci, of Coladarci & Coladarci, of Chicago, for appellee Coladarci & Coladarci.

OPINION

Justice HALL delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Lampkin and Justice Gordon concurred in the judgment and opinion.

[373 Ill.Dec. 508]¶ 1 The respondent, Amy Sines–Patel (Amy), appeals from the entry of the judgment for dissolution of her marriage to the petitioner, Sunil Patel (Sunil). In her previous appeal, this court affirmed the trial court's decision to award sole custody of the parties' two minor children to Sunil and ordering that Amy's visitation with the children be supervised. See In re Marriage of S.P., 2011 IL App (1st) 111407–U, 2011 WL 10088342 (unpublished order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 23) ( Patel I ).

¶ 2 In her present appeal, Amy contends that the trial court erred when it: (1) found that Amy dissipated marital assets; (2) determined that money Amy received from her father was not a marital debt; (3) awarded Amy nonmodifiable maintenance in gross; (4) awarded attorney fees to Amy's former attorneys; (5) denied Amy's request for contribution from Sunil to her attorney fees; (6) ordered Amy to contribute to Sunil's attorney fees; (7) ordered Amy to pay a disproportionate amount of the child representative's fees; and (8) ordered Amy to pay the cost of the visitation supervisor. 1

¶ 3 Our review of the record on appeal reveals no error by the trial court, and we affirm the judgment for dissolution of marriage. The pertinent facts are taken from the record on appeal and from this court's order in Patel I.

¶ 4 BACKGROUND

¶ 5 Sunil and Amy were married on November 12, 2000. At the time of these proceedings, Sunil was 42 years of age and a physician, earning approximately $475,000 per year. Amy was 35 years of age and had both undergraduate and graduate degrees but, until the parties' separation, she did not work outside of the home. At the time of the hearing, she earned approximately $14,500 per year, doing office work for a doctor and working at her church. The parties had two children: Elizabeth, born October 2, 2002, and Joseph, born November 28, 2003.

¶ 6 I. Prehearing Proceedings

¶ 7 On October 17, 2008, Amy filed a petition for dissolution of marriage in the circuit court of Du Page County. She also filed a petition for an order of protection, alleging that Sunil had inflicted physical and emotional abuse on the parties' children and her. She later alleged Sunil had sexually abused Elizabeth. On October 28, 2008, Sunil filed his petition for dissolution of marriage in the circuit court of Cook County. Pursuant to Sunil's motion, the Du Page County circuit court transferred Amy's dissolution case, which had been consolidated with her order of protection petition, to the circuit court of Cook County. Thereafter, all proceedings took place in Cook County circuit court.

¶ 8 A. Temporary Custody and Support

¶ 9 On November 5, 2008, the circuit court entered an order appointing attorney Joel Levin as the child representative, ordered that Sunil's visitation with the children be supervised and that the supervisor's fee be paid by Sunil. Prompted by Amy's complaints, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigated but concluded that Amy's charges of abuse against Sunil were unfounded. On February 10, 2009, the trial court granted Sunil unsupervised visitation with the children. The parties agreed that Sunil would pay Amy $6,000 per month in temporary support.

¶ 10 On May 19, 2009, Dr. Phyllis Amabile, a psychiatrist and the court-appointed evaluator, filed her report with the court. Dr. Amabile concluded that many of the accusations Amy made against Sunil were false, but that in making the accusations, Amy was “delusional” rather than deliberately lying. Sunil then moved to have Amy undergo a mental health evaluation and for transfer of custody of the children to him. The trial court ordered that Amy be evaluated by Sunil's mental health expert, Dr. Stephen Dinwiddie, a forensic psychiatrist. Dr. Dinwiddie diagnosed Amy as suffering from “delusional disorder,” which “is characterized by the presence of fixed, false beliefs with minimal insight into the implausibility of those beliefs.” Patel I, 2011 IL App (1st) 111407–U, ¶ 25, 2011 WL 10088342. Amy's delusional disorder was associated with an elevated risk of violence toward her children. On June 26, 2009, following the submission of Dr. Dinwiddie's report, the court ordered that Sunil have temporary custody of the children and that Amy's visitation be supervised. Patel I, 2011 IL App (1st) 111407–U, ¶ 28, 2011 WL 10088342.

¶ 11 B. Discovery

¶ 12 In January 2009, Amy's attorneys, the law firm of Schiller, DuCanto and Fleck (the Schiller firm) were granted leave to withdraw. The law firm of Rinella and Rinella (the Rinella firm) began representing Amy in February 2009.

¶ 13 On March 12, 2009, Sunil served Amy with a request for the production of documents and with interrogatories in order to ascertain the identity and testimony of the witnesses she intended to call at trial pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213(f) (eff. Jan. 1, 2007). Patel I, 2011 IL App (1st) 111407–U, ¶ 29, 2011 WL 10088342. While the rule required that Amy respond within 28 days, Amy did not respond to the request until July 17, 2009. She tendered some documents and listed only the parties as witnesses. On August 31, 2009, the trial court set a trial date of January 25, 2010, and ordered the parties to update their discovery disclosures by November 24, 2009. Patel I, 2011 IL App (1st) 111407–U, ¶¶ 29–30, 2011 WL 10088342.

¶ 14 On September 21, 2009, Sunil filed a motion to compel Amy to comply with his document request of March 12, 2009. Sunil alleged that Amy's July 17, 2009, response was incomplete. He further alleged that his attorney had attempted to resolve the matter with Amy's attorney pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 201(k) (eff. July 1, 2002), but no additional documents were produced. Due to the withdrawal of the Rinella firm and the appearance of Amy's new attorneys, Pasulka and Associates, P.C. (the Pasulka firm), the trial date was continued to April 28, 2010, and the discovery cutoff date was extended to April 15, 2010. The trial court ordered Amy to comply with Sunil's March 12, 2009, production request by February 1, 2010. In the event she failed to comply, the order provided that Amy would incur a fine of $100 per day. As of February 1, 2010, Amy had not complied with the production request, and the fine began to accumulate. The Pasulka firm then withdrew. Patel I, 2011 IL App (1st) 111407–U, ¶¶ 33–34, 2011 WL 10088342.

¶ 15 On February 16, 2010, the trial court ruled on Amy's emergency motion to reschedule the depositions of certain family members. The court entered an order allowing the substitution of law firm of Coladarci and Coladarci (the Coladarci attorneys) to represent Amy and continued the issue of the depositions to February 18, 2010. The order further provided that Sunil's attorney was to tender to Amy's attorney the bill for costs and fees necessitated by the rescheduling of the depositions. On February 18, 2010, the trial court rescheduled the depositions. The court acknowledged in the order that Sunil's attorney had tendered the bill for the depositions to Amy's attorney. Amy was ordered to pay the rescheduling fees at a pretrial hearing on March 3, 2010.

¶ 16 On April 5, 2010, Sunil filed a motion to bar Amy from using any documentary evidence at trial that she had not previously tendered and from calling any lay or expert witness she had not previously disclosed. Due to the unavailability of the trial judge, the April 28, 2010, trial date was continued, first to July 12, and then to July 19, 2010. On May 12, 2010, Amy disclosed 34 witnesses but requested that discovery be extended to allow her experts, Drs. Chapman and Krause, to submit their reports and to be deposed by Sunil. Sunil responded that it would be impossible to complete discovery with regard to Amy's experts by the trial date. Patel I, 2011 IL App (1st) 111407–U, ¶¶ 35–39, 2011 WL 10088342.

¶ 17 On June 3, 2010, the Coladarci attorneys filed an emergency motion to withdraw as Amy's attorneys. The motion was denied without prejudice on June 9, 2010. On June 17, 2010, the trial court found that Amy's answers did not comply with Rule 213 and that she had failed to comply with the rules and court orders regarding the disclosure of her witnesses. The trial court refused to continue the trial date and barred Amy from introducing her expert witnesses' opinions at trial or from calling them as witnesses.

¶ 18 On June 30, 2010, the trial court heard arguments on several motions filed by the parties. Inter alia, the court found that Amy had violated the June 17, 2010, order by filing Dr. Chapman's report with the clerk of the court. The court prohibited Amy from filing any pro se motions without leave of court and barred her from using or referencing any documents that existed prior to February 2, 2010, but not previously tendered pursuant to prior court orders. On July 21, 2010, the trial court found that Amy had violated the court's June 30, 2010, order, inter alia, by filing motions with the court pro se and failing to file a formal response to Sunil's request for the production of documents. The court entered an order granting Amy's motion to represent herself and ordered the Coladarci attorneys 2 to act as standby counsel. The court barred Amy...

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