Appeals from order of Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, Jan. T., 1964, Nos. 129 and 130, in cases of Commonwealth ex rel. John D. Zeedick, father and next friend of Jacquelyn Diane Zeedick, v. Betty Jean Zeedick; and Commonwealth ex rel. Betty Jean Zeedick, mother and next friend of Ruth Ann Zeedick, a minor, v. John D. Zeedick.
Anthony S. Guido, with him Gleason, Cherry & Guido, for appellant.
R. Edward Ferraro, for appellee.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Hannum, JJ. Dissenting Opinion by Hoffman, J. Spaulding, J., joins in this dissenting opinion.
[ 213 Pa. Super. Page 115]
Dissenting Opinion by Hoffman, J.:
John D. Zeedick, appellee-father, and Betty Jean Zeedick, appellant-mother [now Betty Jean Turley] were married in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, on May 28, 1957. The parties resided in Jefferson County after the marriage, where their two children were born, Jacquelyn on April 21, 1958, and Ruth Ann on August 23, 1959.
[ 213 Pa. Super. Page 116]
In September, 1963, the parties separated. The father took Ruth Ann to live with him and Jacquelyn continued to reside with the mother. Each parent filed habeas corpus petitions for the custody of the child in the other's possession. The cases were heard together before the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County on December 20, 1963 and on September 11, 1964. The court did not enter an order, however, until August 31, 1966.*fn1 That order granted custody of Jacquelyn to the mother, with visitation rights to the father. Ruth Ann remained in the custody of the father pursuant to agreement of counsel. No court order was made as to the custody of Ruth Ann, nor did the mother have any visitation rights as to Ruth Ann.
The mother did not visit with or have custody of Ruth Ann from September, 1963, with the exception of two weeks during the month of August, 1966, until the weekend of March 10, 1967. At that time, it was arranged that the mother would have custody of both children for the weekend. When she obtained custody, she took the children, without notifying anyone, to the home of her parents in the State of Oregon.
Approximately one month later, the father went to Oregon to regain custody of the girls. He contacted the school authorities and a district attorney in Oregon to locate the children. Upon gaining custody of the girls during school hours, he flew them back to Pennsylvania, without gaining the permission of the mother or any authorities in Oregon.
Shortly thereafter, the father filed a petition for modification of the custody of Jacquelyn, and on stipulation of counsel, the custody of both children was put into issue. Hearings were held on July 10 and 11,
[ 213 Pa. Super. Page 1171967]
, in the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County. On September 7, 1967, the Court entered an order granting custody of Jacquelyn and Ruth Ann to the father, with the right of the mother to have the children during the summer months upon filing a bond in the sum of $1000.00.
The lower court should be commended for its patience in handling this case and for its lengthy opinion to support its order. The court felt that the best interests of the children would be served by awarding their custody to the father. The Court stated specifically: "This Court has no doubt about the concern of the father for his children, and the testimony amply supports his contention that the welfare of the children has been his primary concern. However, the Court does have some reservation as to the good faith, intent and concern of the mother for her children, especially when considering the testimony of the husband as to the late hours kept by the wife, as well as her statement that she did not realize she was in violation of the Court Order of August 11, 1966, in removing the ...