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GWISZCZ APPEAL (09/16/65)

decided: September 16, 1965.

GWISZCZ APPEAL


Appeal from order of County Court of Philadelphia, April T., 1962, No. 4192, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Frank J. Rozanski.

COUNSEL

Joseph A. Hagerty, for appellant.

Joseph J. Carlin, for appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Flood, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Montgomery, J., being unwilling to overrule Golembewski, respectfully dissents. Dissenting Opinion by Watkins, J. Wright, J., joins in this dissent.

Author: Hoffman

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 398]

Frank J. Rozanski, appellee, filed a petition to obtain visitation rights with his illegitimate son, Bruce Gwiszcz. On October 19, 1964, Judge Stout of the

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 399]

County Court of Philadelphia permitted such visits. From this order, the mother, Evelyn Gwiszcz, now appeals.

Two questions are set forth for our determination:

(1) May a putative father be awarded the privilege of visiting his illegitimate child who is in the custody of the mother?

(2) Should the putative father be permitted to visit his illegitimate son in the instant case?

I

Most recently, in Commonwealth ex rel. Golembewski v. Stanley, 205 Pa. Superior Ct. 101, 208 A.2d 49 (1965), we decided, President Judge Ervin dissenting, that "[A]s a matter of legal policy . . . it is detrimental to the welfare of an illegitimate child in the mother's custody to award visitation privileges to the putative father." Accordingly, that case stands for the proposition that a putative father may never be granted the privilege of visiting his illegitimate child when it is in the mother's custody. Since Golembewski was a case of first impression in the appellate courts of Pennsylvania, we have been asked to reconsider that decision. After further study, we conclude that our statement of law in Golembewski should be overruled. We now hold that it is proper for the courts, in the appropriate circumstances, to grant visitation privileges to a putative father.

At common law, the custody of an illegitimate child was given to the local parish. The rule was first modified by placing the exclusive right to custody in the mother. Subsequently, the right of custody was extended in ...


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