Appeal from the Circuit Court of Warren County; the Hon.
Stephen G. Evans, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Joint legal custody in mother and father.
Physical custody in father.
We affirm in part; reverse in part and remand.
The facts may be stated concisely.
Susan and Gene Pool had two children, Chad and Nicholas, born to their marriage. The couple separated on April 24, 1981, and on May 13, 1981, Susan filed for dissolution. Since the case was contested, the court, in accordance with section 403(e) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 40, par. 403(e)), tried the case on a bifurcated basis. After a brief hearing on January 28, 1982, the court entered a judgment of dissolution of marriage and set the trial of the remaining issues for March 30, 1982. On February 23, 1982, the court appointed Craig Pierce, attorney at law, as guardian ad litem and legal representative for the children and requested Courtney Cox, a juvenile probation officer, to conduct an investigation in the case. The actual trial of the remaining issues was had on May 13, 1982. Testimony was taken regarding both property division and child custody. (No question is raised here concerning the property settlement.)
The testimony of the witnesses was unremarkable. The various witnesses generally felt that both parties were good and caring parents but each expressed his or her own opinion that the sponsoring party would be a better choice for ultimate custody of the children. There were brief references to some acrimony between the parties but nothing of a very serious nature.
Following the taking of testimony, Mr. and Mrs. Pool's attorneys and the children's guardian ad litem made closing arguments. Although no recommendation was requested by the court, the guardian ad litem, relying on his independent investigation of the case, recommended that the children be placed with their father.
The trial court announced its decision on June 23, 1982. The decision awarded legal custody of the children to the parties jointly, with physical custody in the father. Mrs. Pool brings this appeal seeking to have the decision of the trial court overturned.
We reverse and remand the case to the trial court for reconsideration in light of our opinion.
Mrs. Pool makes two points concerning the joint custody arrangement decreed by the trial court. She also argues that the guardian ad litem's recommendation was improper. She first urges that it was an abuse of discretion to place the children in the custody of their parents jointly since such arrangements are appropriate only under certain circumstances which are lacking here. Her second point is that the decision of the trial ...