We are really proud of our partner, Philip Piscopo, for his outstanding work on an appeal last year in obtaining an outright reversal of trial court’s decision to deny a father’s request to obtain primary residential custody of his daughter. In In re the Parentage of A.I.G-K.,2018 Ill App (2d) 170601-U, a father asked the court to modify custody so that he could have primary residential parenting time for his daughter. The Guardian recommended against granting the father primary residential parenting time, and the trial court agreed. However, on appeal our partner persuaded the Appellate Court that the Guardian’s recommendation was wrong, and it reversed the trial court’s decision, finding that the best interests of the child required that she be placed with her father.
Any parent seeking to modify an existing custody judgment faces an uphill battle for several reasons. First, courts presume the current conditions should be maintained and not changed. Second, trial courts will usually agree with the recommendations of the GAL. Finally, appellate courts typically defer to a trial court’s rulings in this area of the law. So the fact that our partner was able to obtain a reversal of a trial court’s custody decision and change custody is alone exceptional.
But what makes the outcome of this appeal even more extraordinary is that fact that the appellate court was also highly critical of the Guardian’s report and recommendation and ultimately ruled that the trial court should have granted the father’s petition despite the Guardian’s contrary recommendation. This aspect of the appeal is important for two reasons; First, it highlights the fact that the right analysis and argument about seemingly insurmountable evidence can be effective on appeal, even though it is always difficult to get an Appellate Court to view evidence differently than the trial court did. But second, and maybe more important, is the recognition that even when everything about the outcome in your case in the trial court seems to dictate against taking an appeal, you might want to contact Philip Piscopo in our offices to have him review the case.