The Illinois Appellate Court has declined to intervene immediately in the case of two Bolingbrook teens whose child support was ordered withheld until their mother gets them into family counseling.
The teens' mother, Bess Kontos, was notified Wednesday that the 3rd District Appellate Court decided not to issue an emergency stay of a Dec. 1 ruling by Will County Associate Judge Robert Lorz that halts weekly payments from the children's estranged father until Kontos obtains counseling for her children.
Lorz has said he wants Galatea Kapsimalis, 17, and her brother Peter, 16, to talk with a counselor about why they have repeatedly refused visits with their father, Kostas Kapsimalis, for the past three years.
Kontos said Thursday she was disappointed the Appellate Court denied her request for the stay, but she said she planned to appeal Lorz's ruling in the next few days.
"We're not going to have a Christmas," said Kontos, who makes about $7 an hour as a factory worker and had relied on the $225-a-week maintenance checks to pay monthly bills.
"Their father is basically saying, `If you don't talk to me, I won't feed you.' The children have said they would rather go without a Christmas than talk to him again," Kontos said.
Galatea and Peter Kapsimalis have told the court they no longer love their father and that they had a right to refuse his visits, because he deserted them.
But Kostas Kapsimalis argued that he loved his children and never did anything to hurt them except leave their mother.
Over the course of the bitter, 3-year-old divorce and custody proceedings, Kontos repeatedly frustrated Lorz by openly siding with the children and saying they were old enough to decide for themselves whether they wanted to see their father.
Kapsimalis successfully argued that Kontos turned the children against him and that he needed the court's help in repairing his relationship with the teens.
Lorz reluctantly granted custody of the children to Kontos in March on the condition that the children attend family counseling.
After months went by with no counseling, Kontos was ordered to report her case to the state child-welfare agency so that it could begin monitoring the family.
But Kontos refused, saying she had not abused her children, and she served a week in Will County jail in October for contempt of court.