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In re Marriage of Seitzinger

August 23, 2002


Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 00D1008 Honorable Charles Gramlich, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

In June 2001, the trial court granted petitioner, Kimberly Seitzinger, and respondent, Roger Seitzinger, a dissolution of marriage. The trial court awarded the parties joint custody of their only child, Sabrina (born October 18, 1996), with Kimberly to have primary physical custody provided she remained in either Sangamon or Cass County. The trial court established a visitation schedule for Roger, ordered him to pay $292.68 per month in child support and half of the day-care costs. The court divided the parties' personal property between them and ordered them to split equally the costs of their former marital residence until it was sold; it ordered Roger to pay Kimberly for health insurance she previously provided Sabrina, and ordered Kimberly to maintain further health insurance.

Kimberly appeals the award of joint custody, the provision that she remain in Sangamon or Cass County, the visitation schedule, the division of property, and the failure of the trial court to order Roger to pay one half of Sabrina's health insurance premiums. We affirm in part as modified, reverse in part, and remand with directions.


On October 27, 2000, Kimberly filed a petition for dissolution of marriage pursuant to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (Dissolution Act) (750 ILCS 5/101 et seq.) (West 2000)). Kimberly sought sole custody of their only child, Sabrina. Both parties filed petitions for temporary custody and support. On November 1, 2000, the trial court entered a temporary agreed order whereby the parties agreed to split time with Sabrina equally. Each party would decide where Sabrina would go to day care while in that party's care. The parties were to decide on a specific schedule.

Roger and Kimberly agreed Kimberly would have custody of Sabrina on Monday and Tuesday, Roger on Wednesday and Thursday and they would alternate Friday through Sunday. They came to this arrangement without further court input. This schedule remained in effect until the permanent custody determination was made by the trial court on March 21, 2001. By the time the court began hearing evidence on custody on January 16, 2001, however, both parties concluded the temporary schedule was not in Sabrina's best interest and both sought sole custody.

Roger is a school teacher and basketball coach in Ashland, Illinois. The family moved to the Springfield area for Roger to take this job in August 2000. Previously, Roger held a similar position in Fairfield, Illinois, as he had throughout the parties' marriage. Kimberly is a licensed speech pathologist at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. She previously worked for health-care providers while the parties resided in Fairfield. Sabrina has been in day care while the parties are at work throughout their marriage.

Roger works during the school year and has the summers off. He previously cared for Sabrina during the summers and school vacations instead of her attending day care. Kimberly works Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. She also works one Saturday every two months, and when she does so, she has the following Monday off.

While in Kimberly's care, Sabrina attended day care at Memorial Medical Center. Kimberly frequently ate lunch with Sabrina there. While in Roger's care, Sabrina attended day care at Noah's Ark Christian Preschool and Day Care in Ashland. Roger is a member of the board of directors of the day care and attends the church which runs the day care. He occasionally ate lunch with or visited Sabrina at the day care. Both day care centers provided a good environment for Sabrina and neither party had any criticisms of the other's day-care choice.

Kimberly arranged for Sabrina to attend counseling due to the separation of the family. Roger cooperated in getting Sabrina to the counseling sessions when he had custody, and the parties agreed to split the costs of counseling.

Both parties presented witnesses stating both Kimberly and Roger were good parents and could care for Sabrina appropriately. Only minor criticisms were raised. Neither party suggested the other party was not a proper parent.

Kimberly testified she would like to move back to Fairfield because she had friends there and Sabrina could attend her old day care. Kimberly thought she had job opportunities in Fairfield and she was willing to buy the parties' home there which, while listed for sale, had not been sold. However, she stated she would not move to Fairfield if it would jeopardize her receiving custody of Sabrina. Roger stated he intended to stay in Ashland.

Though both parties sought sole custody, the trial court awarded joint custody, finding "the parties exhibited an ability to communicate with each other regarding the interest of their child." The court further found both parties had healthy and suitable environments to care for Sabrina and had cultivated familial contacts to assist them. While the court found this case to be an appropriate situation for joint custody, the court did not believe it was in the best interest of Sabrina to divide physical custody. The court awarded primary physical custody to Kimberly so long as she remained in Sangamon or adjacent Cass County (where Ashland is located). If she elected to move from either of those counties, primary physical custody was to change to Roger. If Roger moved from either of those counties and Kimberly remained there, Kimberly was to have sole custody of Sabrina.

Roger received visitation on Wednesday evenings, two consecutive weekends from 5 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday, plus certain holidays and school breaks and four weeks in the summer. Kimberly would have weekends with Sabrina every third week. Roger was to have decision-making authority over Sabrina's education and Kimberly was to have decision-making authority over Sabrina's religious development.

The trial court divided the personal property of the parties as they requested except it gave some additional items to Roger upon his request in his posthearing memorandum. (These items were not considered by either party at the time of the hearing.) The court ordered Roger to pay Kimberly $1,952.01 within 60 days to equalize the division of property. The court ordered Roger to pay child support of $292.68 per month, pay half of Sabrina's day care costs, and reimburse Kimberly $455 for health insurance she previously provided Sabrina. The court ordered Kimberly to provide health insurance for Sabrina and the parties to equally divide health-care costs not covered by insurance.

Both parties filed motions for reconsideration. Kimberly asked that the joint custody, visitation, and the division of personal property determinations be reconsidered and that Roger be ordered to pay half the cost of Sabrina's health insurance. Roger asked the primary custodian, summer visitation, and costs of day-care decisions be reconsidered. The trial court granted the portion of Kimberly's motion requesting Roger's summer visitation be divided into two 14-day periods, with Kimberly to have Sabrina for at least one week in between those periods. The remainder of both parties' motions to reconsider were denied. This appeal followed.


A. Joint ...

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