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07/07/88 In Re Marriage of Bonita Louise Richmond

July 7, 1988

IN RE MARRIAGE OF BONITA LOUISE RICHMOND, N/K/A/ BONITA


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

Bantner, Petitioner and Counterrespondent-Appellant,

and DAVID KENT RICHMOND, Respondent and

Counterpetitioner-Appellee

525 N.E.2d 1226, 171 Ill. App. 3d 506, 121 Ill. Dec. 919 1988.IL.1067

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. Stuart H. Shiffman, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LUND delivered the opinion of the court. GREEN, P.J., and KNECHT, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LUND

Petitioner Bonita Richmond appeals from the December 4, 1987, order of the circuit court of Sangamon County which modified the custody of David Richmond, minor child of petitioner and her ex-husband, respondent David Kent Richmond.

More than two years had expired between the prior custody order in this cause and the motion to modify filed by respondent. Section 610(b) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 40, par. 610(b)) provides in relevant part:

"[The] court shall not modify a prior custody judgment unless it finds by clear and convincing evidence, upon the basis of facts that have arisen since the prior judgment . . . that a change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or his custodian, . . . and that the modification is necessary to serve the best interest of the child. . . . The court shall state in its decision specific findings of fact in support of its modification or termination of joint custody if either parent opposes the modification or termination."

Custody decisions rest within the sound discretion of the trial court, and "[once] the court concludes that a change in custody is necessary, great deference must be accorded that decision, since the trial court is in the best position to Judge the credibility of the witnesses and determine the needs of the child. . . . [The] question for the reviewing court is whether the trial court's decision is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence." In re Custody of Sussenbach (1985), 108 Ill. 2d 489, 499, 485 N.E.2d 367, 371.

The trial court in its December 4, 1987, order made the following finding of facts in support of its modification of custody:

"With respect to the change of circumstances since the prior Custody Orders, the Court determines that there was a voluntary delivery of physical custody of both children to DAVID KENT RICHMOND followed by a later return of physical custody to BONITA BANTNER of JAY RICHMOND with a ...


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