Appeals, Nos. 130 and 131, Oct. T., 1956, from orders of Municipal Court of Philadelphia County, Oct. T., 1952, No. 7775, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Shirley Jacobson v. Sidney Jacobson. Orders affirmed.
Daniel Marcu, for appellant.
Harry W. Steinbrook, with him Blanc, Steinberg, Balder & Steinbrook, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Carr, JJ.
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The present contest between these parents over the custody of their children began on October 15, 1952 when the father petitioned the court for an order under the Act of June 26, 1895, P.L. 316, 48 PS § 92,
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giving the stamp of judicial approval to custody of his children which he had arrogated to himself on separating from his wife. This proceeding by the husband inspired a counter habeas corpus proceeding by the wife, on the next day, in which she sought to regain possession of her children.
Following their marriage on June 28, 1946, the parties lived in a dwelling at 5665 Springfield Avenue in Philadelphia which the respondent had purchased. He, a practicing physician, also had his offices on the premises. Twin girls were born on April 27, 1947. They separated on May 29, 1952 when the respondent, taking the children with him placed them in the home of his sister, Mrs. Ruth Levin, in Northeast Philadelphia where they were adequately cared for by her. This arrangement was approved by the lower court by an order on June 26, 1953, giving "temporary" custody of the children to their father. That order was revoked on September 10, 1954, when the court awarded custody, again as a temporary measure, to the mother. More than four and one-half years after the initial proceedings were brought (and 550 pages later in the present record, as developed at no fewer than eleven hearings) Judge BONNELLY, who presided throughout and who most patiently heard all of the charges and counter charges of the parties, affirmed his order of September 1954 and awarded custody of the children to their mother subject to the right of the father to have the children on alternate weekends. It is from this order entered on March 1, 1956, that an appeal was taken. A second appeal before us is from an order directing the defendant to pay sixty dollars per week for the support of his children.
Since the decision in the custody proceedings depended largely upon the credibility of the parties and their witnesses, we might satisfy the requirement of
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the law (Com. ex rel. Harry v. Eastridge, 374 Pa. 172, 97 A.2d 350) by summarily affirming the order of the court below on that ground. This case however clearly reflects the propriety of our insistence that in custody cases in the Municipal Court successive hearings throughout the entire proceedings shall be before the same judge who first heard the parties. In our view, also, the factual background of the various orders and particularly the testimony ...