Victor S. Jaczun, Perkasie, for appellant.
Lenard Croissette, in pro. per.
No appearance for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Nix, J., joins.
On June 26, 1975, the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas, Bucks County, entered a final decree denying appellants' petition for the termination of
Lenard W. Croissette's parental rights to his two children, Lenard Dale and Douglas, and denying a related petition for their adoption. On this appeal, appellants contend that the orphans' court erred in denying their petitions because it applied an incorrect standard of abandonment.*fn* We agree, vacate the decree and remand for further proceedings.
Lenard Dale and Douglas Croissette, sixteen and eleven years of age respectively, were born of the marriage between Janet Faye Lawrence (appellant) and Lenard W. Croissette (appellee). In 1966, the parents separated. Appellant retained custody of the two boys and appellee agreed to provide thirty-two dollars per week support and was granted reasonable visitation rights. On February 25, 1969, the parties obtained a divorce, but their respective rights with regard to the children were not altered.
Appellant interrupted and finally terminated appellee's biweekly visits during the summer and fall of 1970. Appellee sought legal advice, and the visitation rights were reinstituted by agreement before the end of that year. However, appellee's visits became less frequent during 1971, until they ceased completely in the late summer, after appellant married Brian Lawrence, also an appellant. It is undisputed that appellee, although living in the same vicinity as his children, has not been in their company since August or September of 1971. His sole contacts for thirty-three months were his regular biweekly support checks of sixty-four dollars each and Christmas and birthday rememberances.
Appellants petitioned for termination of appellee's parental rights pursuant to section 311(1) of the ...