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03/02/88 In Re Marriage of William R. Hazard

March 2, 1988



and Cross-Appellee, and ALYCE JEAN HAZARD,

Respondent-Appellee and Cross-Appellant

520 N.E.2d 1121, 167 Ill. App. 3d 61, 117 Ill. Dec. 770 1988.IL.281

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. John J. Beatty, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court. WHITE, P.J., and McNAMARA, J., concur.


This appeal arises out of a custody determination regarding three minor children and an award of attorney fees in connection with the judgment of dissolution of marriage of the parties, William R. Hazard and Alyce Jean Hazard. The trial court awarded custody of the parties' 12-year-old son to the husband-petitioner and custody of the parties' 11- and 14-year-old daughters to the wife-respondent. Additionally, the trial court ordered the husband to pay $12,000 in attorney fees on behalf of the wife. The husband appeals the custody determination regarding the parties' daughters, the award of attorney fees to the wife, and the court's striking of certain testimony at trial.

For the reasons stated below, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

The evidence at trial indicated the following. The parties were married on November 30, 1968, in Evanston, Illinois. In October 1972, the parties adopted Kathleen Hazard, born August 31, 1972. In May 1974, they adopted Travis Hazard, born April 28, 1974. Andrea Lynn Hazard was born of the marriage on September 8, 1975. On May 14, 1984, the husband filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage.

After some contested preliminary matters, the cause was assigned to Judge Monica Reynolds for pretrial proceedings regarding child custody and other matters. At the request of the husband, the Isaac Ray Center, which is associated with the department of psychiatry of Rush-Presbyterian Saint Luke Medical Center, was directed on May 2, 1985, to conduct an evaluation of the parties and the children pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 215(a) (87 Ill. 2d R. 215(a)). Pursuant to a petition filed September 23, 1985, the husband requested a second evaluation. On October 10, 1985, Judge Reynolds ordered the Department of Supportive Services to conduct a home study and appointed Dr. Jack Arbit to conduct a diagnostic evaluation of the parties and the minor children. Upon completion of the court-ordered evaluations, the matter was set for trial before Judge John Beatty on October 1, 1986.

At trial the husband called several witnesses. Gale Kaplan, a clinical psychologist, testified that on March 17, 1986, she performed a diagnostic interview of the husband. Regarding parenting skills, Kaplan found that the husband was "able to really zero in on . . . the strengths and the vulnerabilities of each child." She described him as having a "genuine empathy" for the children. She stated that the husband perceived his son identifying with him. Further, the younger daughter identified mainly with the wife, and the husband perceived the older daughter as being "torn in the middle." Kaplan stated that there was no indication that the husband would not be able to provide for the children's emotional, physical, and financial needs. As she had not interviewed either the wife or the children, Kaplan made no specific recommendation as to custody.

The husband also called Edlynne Sillman, a caseworker for the Cook County Department of Supportive Services, who prepared a report regarding the subject family in response to a court order. Sillman interviewed the husband, wife, and children while they were all living in the same household. Additionally, she interviewed a family friend, the wife's sister, and the wife's mother. She also talked to the husband's daughter from a prior marriage. Sillman found that the husband could be available whenever the children needed him. She stated that his work schedule would be flexible. Sillman's Conclusion regarding custody of the children, however, was stricken by the trial court as being based on unreliable information.

The husband also called Marvin Schwartz, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist. Schwartz interviewed the husband and the children and observed them interacting with each other. Schwartz formed opinions regarding the emotional states of the husband and the children. Further, Schwartz gave an opinion regarding the husband's ability to be a parent to the children. Schwartz found the children to be "warm, positive and supportive of each other" and found the relationship between the children and their father to be "warm, positive, affectionate and appropriately parental." Schwartz saw in the husband a positive need to devote himself to the children. Schwartz found that the husband would do an appropriate parenting job and would not be harmful to the children in any way.

Dr. Ner Littner, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist, testified regarding the May 16, 1986, report he prepared based on his evaluation of the parties and the children. Littner did not make a recommendation in the May 1986 report regarding custody of the parties' children. The report states that Littner believed that there was no reason why the husband could not be considered an appropriate parent. Littner first saw the husband in June 1984 to request an evaluation of his children regarding whether they needed psychotherapeutic help. Littner stated that he never interviewed the children. His May 1986 report indicates that he interviewed both parties, individually and together, talked over the telephone with Joann DeCamp and Mary Lou LuGanna, and reviewed the reports of Drs. Kaplan, Schwartz, Arbit, and Heinrich and the Isaac Ray Center. Littner stated that he prepared an addendum report on September 5, 1986. In the September report Littner made a recommendation regarding custody. However, upon the wife's motion, the trial court ordered that Littner's September 1986 report be stricken from evidence.

The husband also called Lawrence Heinrich, a psychologist, to testify. Heinrich interviewed each child and prepared written reports regarding his findings. Heinrich found that the children were suffering from "mild anxiety," "moderate depression," and "considerable stress." Travis, the parties' son, told Heinrich that if he had to choose, he would prefer to live with his father. The parties' daughters did not state a preference regarding which parent they would prefer as their custodial parent. Heinrich did not express ...

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