Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. John
D. Sullivan, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE HEIPLE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This is an appeal from a permanent child custody award. On September 10, 1981, Catherine and Nicholas McKeever were divorced. Temporary custody of their minor children, James, then six, and Katie, age two, was awarded to Catherine McKeever.
During the next nine months, six hearings were held on the issue of permanent custody. Following the hearing on March 19, 1982, the proofs were closed but, on motion of Nicholas McKeever, they were reopened on May 7, 1982, and additional evidence by both parties was presented. At the beginning of the May 7 hearing, the trial judge made the statement that this was a "very, very close case."
At the conclusion of the May 7 hearing, the matter was taken under advisement, and both parties were asked to file summations and arguments with the trial court. On July 23, 1982, the parties were in court on pending property issues. Written arguments on the property issues were requested of each attorney. Attorney Joe R. Vespa, representing Catherine McKeever, stated that it might be easier to prepare his argument if the court's decision on the issue of child custody was known. The trial judge then announced substantially as follows:
"In view of all the testimony in this case, especially the testimony at the last hearing, I think it would be in the best interest of the children to award custody to the Father. Child support is set at $50 per week."
From this July 23, 1982, award of permanent child custody to Nicholas, Catherine McKeever has appealed.
Parenthetically, we note that a dispute exists regarding the exact wording used by the trial judge in announcing the permanent custody award. No court reporter was present at the July 23 hearing, and each party and the trial judge have filed certified bystander's reports of what transpired then regarding child custody. The bystander's report filed by Nicholas McKeever is essentially the same as that quoted above, which was submitted by trial judge John D. Sullivan. Catherine McKeever's report indicates that Judge Sullivan stated: "It is my opinion that because of the evidence introduced at the last hearing, it is in the best interest of the children to be awarded to the father."
The differences in the language becomes significant in light of the evidence presented at the May 7 hearing. That evidence included testimony of John Dare regarding his physical and emotional involvement with Catherine McKeever; the admission of Nicholas McKeever that he had spent the night on two or three occasions with Dorenda Dare, and the testimony of Father Michael Joseph Ferran who appeared as a character witness for Catherine McKeever.
In this appeal, Catherine McKeever contends that the trial court erred in failing to give adequate consideration both to non-statutory factors and to those statutory factors found in section 602(a) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act; that the trial court erred in considering the conduct of a present or proposed custodian in violation of section 602(b) of the Act; and that undue emphasis was placed on the May 7, 1982, hearing. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 40, par. 602.
• 1 Section 602(a) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act lists factors to be considered by the court in the determination of child custody. Those factors include:
"(1) the wishes of the child's parent or parents as to his custody;
(2) the wishes of the child as to his custodian;
(3) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parent or parents, his siblings and any other person who may ...