Appeal, No. 176, April T., 1960, from order of County Court of Allegheny County, No. C785 of 1957, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Elizabeth Y. English v. John S. English. Order, as modified, affirmed.
John L. Bailey, with him William J. Grahan, and Weller, Wicks & Wallace, for appellant.
No argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, Watkins, and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 194 Pa. Super. Page 26]
In this habeas corpus proceeding the court below entered an order awarding general custody of their three boys, aged nine, seven, and four, to the mother, with right of visitation in the father every week end from 9 a.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Relatrix, the mother, and defendant, the father, were married on April 24, 1948, in Washington, D.C., and later purchased a home in Allegheny County. Since 1957 the parties have been separated. The mother filed suit for a limited divorce, and also sought support for the three boys in Allegheny County. Later the father removed the children to New York City, where the mother subsequently obtained custody by decree of the Supreme Court of New York, and returned to Allegheny County with the children.
[ 194 Pa. Super. Page 27]
Following a petition filed by the father, and after various hearings, the County Court of Allegheny County, on February 24, 1960, entered a temporary order giving the father visitation privileges or temporary custody as to the three children every week end, on Saturday from 9 a.m. to Sunday at 7 p.m. Thereafter the mother filed a petition seeking to modify the court's order. After a hearing, the court below, on October 24, 1960, dismissed the mother's petition and reaffirmed its order granting week-end visitation rights to the father. Relatrix, the mother, appealed.
The evidence shows that the father is frequently tardy in payment of support for the children. His weekly visitation involves a round trip by bus from New York City to Allegheny County. He then takes the three boys to the home of his sister, Mrs. Kremmel, in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. It appears that the three children sleep in one bed while at the Kremmel household.
The court below indicated that, in refusing to modify the week-end visitation rights of the father, it was influenced by the mother's apparent refusal to abide by a premarital agreement that the children be raised in the Roman Catholic faith and her apparent wish that they be raised in the Methodist faith. The court below further indicated it would have modified the father's visitation right except that it felt that the religious training of the children should be entrusted to the father.
The paramount consideration in child custody cases is the welfare of the child to which all other factors are subordinate. Com. ex rel. Sabath v. Mendelson, 187 Pa. Superior Ct. 73, 76, 143 A.2d 665. Under our cases it is clear that religion is an important matter and should be given ...