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11/30/88 In Re Custody of Christina Horbatenko

November 30, 1988

IN RE CUSTODY OF CHRISTINA HORBATENKO, A MINOR (EUGENE


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

Horbatenko, Plaintiff-Appellant, v.

Antonia Lepkyj, Defendant-Appellee)

531 N.E.2d 1011, 176 Ill. App. 3d 970, 126 Ill. Dec. 384 1988.IL.1723

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Howard Kaufman, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

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

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE RIZZI

Plaintiff, Eugene Horbatenko, appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County awarding sole custody of Christina Horbatenko to her natural mother, Antonia Lepkyj. On appeal, plaintiff argues that the trial court abused its discretion in (1) awarding sole custody to Antonia and (2) questioning Eugene about his employment to determine his plans of caring for Christina. We affirm.

Christina, born December 21, 1978, is the daughter of Eugene Horbatenko (Eugene) and Antonia Lepkyj (Antonia). Although they lived together from 1977 to 1980, Eugene and Antonia never married. Since 1980, Christina has lived with her mother.

Antonia's mental state was an issue at trial. Eugene testified that after Christina was born, Antonia experienced "mood swings." Antonia agreed that she was depressed when she lived with Eugene. However, Antonia recognized that she was in need of professional help and in February of 1982, Antonia attended Northwestern Hospital. While at Northwestern, Antonia was diagnosed as a manic-depressive. Northwestern then referred Christina to a special Mother's Project administered by Thresholds, a psycho-social rehabilitation agency. At the time of trial, Antonia was attending Thresholds. She was also having test runs every six months to monitor her medication of lithium and trilafon.

Christina began attending Thresholds' therapeutic nursery school program in February 1982. She graduated in September of 1984. In addition to school, Christina attends church and is involved in dancing and Ukranian lessons.

Eugene lives alone in a studio apartment. He testified at trial that he makes his living as a real estate developer although he has no real estate license. Eugene stated that he is also a landlord and works one day per month collecting rent from his properties. When questioned about how he would care for Christina, Eugene stated that she would move into his studio apartment with him and they both would later move to a "good" neighborhood. If he could not take care of Christina, Eugene stated that he would hire a baby-sitter.

In August of 1982, Eugene filed a petition for custody of Christina. On September 1, 1982, the court granted Eugene a visitation order. However, his visitation was halted by a court order of September 30, 1982, when the director from the Mother's Project at Thresholds filed a report with the Department of Children and Family Services. The report alleged that Eugene had physically abused Christina during one of their visits together.

On November 4, 1982, Eugene was granted supervised visitation of Christina on a weekly basis. A second physical abuse report was later filed after Eugene allegedly struck and bruised Christina on a visit in January of 1983. Following a court hearing, Eugene was awarded day-long unsupervised visits. However, following another string of court appearances and allegations of physical and sexual abuse, Antonia made a motion to have Eugene's ...


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