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JAGODZINSKI ADOPTION CASE (10/12/71)

decided: October 12, 1971.

JAGODZINSKI ADOPTION CASE


Appeals from decrees of Court of Common Pleas of York County, Nos. 2060 and 2061, in re adoption of Pamela Ann Jagodzinski; and in re adoption of Michael Allen Jagodzinski.

COUNSEL

Joseph J. Lee, for appellant.

Allen H. Smith, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell.

Author: Bell

[ 444 Pa. Page 512]

These appeals raise the question of whether or not a father has voluntarily abandoned his two minor children so as to permit their adoption without his written consent.

Appellant Walter Jagodzinski and his wife, Barbara, had two children born to them prior to the divorce decree which she obtained in Nevada in 1966. The divorce decree awarded exclusive custody of the children to Barbara "subject to defendant's right of reasonable visitation at all times and subject to defendant's right to have the custody during two (2) months of each Summer vacation and on alternate Christmases and Easters." The decree also provided that support and maintenance for the children was to be paid by appellant at the rate of $50 per month per child. Although the payments were made through June of 1967, they

[ 444 Pa. Page 513]

    were thereafter discontinued by appellant until September of 1970.

In July of 1967, appellant sought a writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania (the mother having returned to and lived in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, with the children), seeking to have that Court grant him the visitation rights awarded him by the Nevada divorce decree. A stipulated decree was entered by the Westmoreland County Court, providing as follows: "The said Barbara Louise Jagodzinski is hereby directed to take the aforesaid minor children, Pamela Ann Jagodzinski and Michael Allen Jagodzinski to the home of their father, Walter M. Jagodzinski in Las Vegas, Nevada and to provide complete visitation privileges from July 12, 1967 to August 1, 1967. The said Walter M. Jagodzinski is to provide and make available for the said Barbara Louise Jagodzinski and the said minor children, his home located in Las Vegas, Nevada, during said period of time. During this time, Walter M. Jagodzinski is to remove himself from said home and live elsewhere."

Complying with this decree, Barbara took the two children to Las Vegas. However, a quarrel developed when appellant violated the decree by sleeping in the house while Barbara and the children were living there. Barbara then returned to Pennsylvania with the children. Upon arriving home, she sent appellant a telegram informing him of her return.

Approximately one year after this Las Vegas trip, Barbara and the children moved to York, Pennsylvania. However, Barbara's parents continued to reside in the same home which Barbara and the children had before they moved to York. Barbara's mother testified that Barbara's ...


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