Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fifth District affirms Madison County Circuit Court ruling in custody case

By Noell Wolfgram Evans | Mar 31, 2017

MOUNT VERNON — The Fifth District Appellate Court has affirmed a Madison County ruling in a child custody case.

The underlying case put Amanda Smith against Brady Smith in a matter regarding whether custody of their child would be shared or would remain the sole responsibility of Amanda.

Brady had appealed an August 2016 ruling by Madison County Circuit Court Associate Judge Martin Mengarelli which provided Amanda with the sole power regarding decisions that would affect their child. In his appeal, Brady contended that the decision was flawed in regard to child support and the scheduling of parenting time.

After hearing testimony, the appellate court ruled against Brady.

Justice James R. Moore wrote for the panel.

The ruling for Amanda states that decisions of the circuit court in the original case were made after valid discovery, investigation and testimony and were not decisions made with “an abuse of discretion.”

Moore wrote: "On appeal, we give great deference to the trial court's best-interests findings because that court had a better position than we do to observe the temperaments and personalities of the parties and assess the credibility of Witnesses."

As a basis for its decision, the appellate court looked to Section 602.5 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. This act details the way that the responsibilities of a parent can be divided for school, health, religious activities and sports and club events.

The decision held that the actions of Brady, particularly his non-action in matters directed by the court prior to the initial ruling in the case (i.e. counseling), were factored into the court's initial decision and continued to be an important part of the case upon appeal.

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court Madison County Circuit Court