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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. STAUNTON v. AUSTIN (11/17/66)

decided: November 17, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. STAUNTON
v.
AUSTIN, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 65-6041 Habeas Corpus, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Thomas P. Staunton et al. v. Roy Austin.

COUNSEL

William F. Fox, with him William T. Nicholas, and Fox, Differ, DiGiacomo & Lowe, for appellant.

Edward F. Kane, with him Bean, DeAngelis, Tredinnick & Giangiulio, for appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Dissenting Opinion by Wright, J. Watkins, J., joins in this dissent.

Author: Hoffman

[ 209 Pa. Super. Page 188]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County awarding custody of four-year old Christina Staunton to her parents Thomas P. Staunton and Jean Campbell, also known as Jean Staunton. Mrs. Campbell will hereinafter be referred to as Mrs. Staunton.

On January 24, 1948, Mrs. Staunton married Joseph Campbell and lived with him until August 1951, at which time they separated. This marriage has not been terminated by a divorce.

Since July of 1953 Mrs. Staunton has lived and cohabited with Mr. Staunton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Five children, including Christina, have been born of this union. The children range in age from eleven to one and one half.

[ 209 Pa. Super. Page 189]

Christina was born on July 24, 1962, at the Osteopathic Hospital in Philadelphia. In October 1962, Mrs. Staunton suffered a severe post-partum depression which required that she be hospitalized. As a result, Mrs. Staunton sought the assistance of the Catholic Social Services of Philadelphia for the purpose of placing her children in foster homes. The three older children were placed in St. Mary's Home in Ambler, and Christina was placed with Mr. and Mrs. Roy Austin of Upper Merion Township. Thereafter, Mrs. Staunton was hospitalized at Wissahickon Hall, Philadelphia for four weeks.

In June of 1963, Mr. and Mrs. Staunton brought their four children together and resumed life as a family group. In September 1963, however, Mrs. Staunton again became very depressed and asked the Austins to accept Christina on a temporary basis.

Mrs. Staunton also requested that St. Mary's Home take her three older children a second time, but withdrew this request when she was informed that such a placement must be for a minimum of two years.

In January of 1964, Mrs. Staunton was hospitalized because of a miscarriage. In February of 1964, she was hospitalized at Wissahickon Hall for four weeks due to a mental depression and was then transferred to Mercy-Douglas Hospital where she remained until the middle of May 1964. During this period, the three older children were returned to St. Mary's Home upon Mrs. Staunton's consent to a placement of two years.

After her release from Mercy-Douglas Hospital, Mrs. Staunton cared for her mother during a protracted illness until August ...


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