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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SORACE v. SORACE (09/22/75)

decided: September 22, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SORACE
v.
SORACE, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 10305 of 1974, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ex rel. Salvatore D. Sorace v. Eleanora R. Sorace.

COUNSEL

Earl J. Patterson, with him Caine, Di Pasqua, Edelson & Patterson, for appellant.

Joseph P. Mylotte, with him Alvin S. Ackerman, and Ackerman and Mylotte, for appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Watkins, P.j., dissents.

Author: Hoffman

[ 236 Pa. Super. Page 43]

Appellant contends that it is an abuse of discretion for a court to grant visitation rights to a parent involved in a meretricious relationship.

The parties were married on December 27, 1958, and have four children: three daughters, ages 8 to 15, and a son, age 14. The parties separated in March, 1973, and since that time, appellee and his son have lived with appellee's paramour, Betty Gordon. On October 31, 1974, a female child was born to the appellee and Ms. Gordon. On September 11, 1974, appellee instituted proceedings

[ 236 Pa. Super. Page 44]

    to gain temporary custody of his three daughters. An order was issued on January 20, 1975, which permitted the appellee temporary custody of the three daughters, without overnight visitation privileges, on the first and third weekends of every month from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. on Saturdays and Sundays, on Christmas Eve between 7:00 P.M. and 11:00 P.M., and on New Years Day and Thanksgiving Day between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. Further, the order provides that appellee ". . . shall consider the wishes and desires of the children as to where he takes them and with whom they visit." This appeal followed.

In Commonwealth ex rel. Lotz v. Lotz, 188 Pa. Superior Ct. 241, 246, 146 A.2d 362, 364 (1958), we stated: "[v]isitation rights of a parent not in custody have long been a matter of concern to the law of this Commonwealth. They must be carefully guarded for when parents are separated and custody is placed in one of the parents, there exists a danger that the parent having custody of the child may use his or her advantageous position to alienate the other parent from the affections of the child." We further noted that it is against public policy to limit or destroy the relationship of parent to child. Commonwealth ex rel. Lotz v. Lotz, supra.

A father may not be denied visitation rights with his children unless such visits will be detrimental to the best interests of the children. Commonwealth ex rel. Meta v. Cinello, 217 Pa. Superior Ct. 94, 268 A.2d 135 (1970). "A parent has seldom been denied the right of visitation. The cases in which visitation rights of a parent have been limited or denied have been those in which severe mental or moral deficiencies of the parent have constituted a real and grave threat to the welfare of the child." Commonwealth ex rel. Lotz v. Lotz, supra at 244, 146 A.2d at 363. (Emphasis added.)

While it is true that the appellee is living in an extramarital relationship, the lower ...


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