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decided: October 20, 1976.



Arnold, Slike & Bayley, Edgar B. Bayley, Camp Hill, for appellants.

Sylvia H. Rambo, Carlisle, for appellee, Robert R. Young.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion and also joins in the dissenting opinion filed by Pomeroy, J.

Author: Jones

[ 469 Pa. Page 144]


The instant appeal brought by Judith (Young) Goodling, the natural mother of Robert Dale Young, and her second husband, Robert E. Goodling, presents a most difficult and highly disturbing familial morass. Mrs. Goodling appeals from the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Orphans' Court Division, denying her petition seeking the involuntary termination of parental rights of Robert R. Young, wherein she alleges pursuant to Section 311(3) of the Adoption Act*fn1 that Mr. Young, her first husband, "is

[ 469 Pa. Page 145]

    the presumptive but not the natural father of" Robert Dale Young. Mr. Goodling appeals from that same Decree which also denied his petition under Section 401 of the Adoption Act*fn2 seeking to legally adopt Robert Dale Young.

Briefly, avoiding any detailed vagaries revealed on the record, appellant Judith Goodling and appellee Robert Young were married in 1966. During the period of this marriage, and prior to separation, the subject child, Robert Dale, was born; his birthdate being October 11, 1969. Mrs. Goodling testified*fn2a that during the month of January in 1969 she was having frequent sexual relations with appellant Robert E. Goodling and that during that same period, when it is approximated that conception occurred, she and appellee Young had sexual intercourse only once. The relevance of this testimony relates to Mrs. Goodling's assertion that appellee Young is not the natural father of Robert Dale but rather that appellant Goodling, her present husband, fathered the child.

According to Mrs. Goodling's own testimony, it was not until five months after the boy's birth that she first verbalized her belief as to the true parentage of her son. At that same time, she separated from her first husband and began living with appellant Robert Goodling. Mr. Goodling was separated from his first wife as well. The youngster remained in the custody of his mother.

A private separation agreement between appellee and appellant Mrs. Goodling was entered into on August 13, 1971, wherein provision for the child's support was set forth. At no time were any child support proceedings brought against Robert Goodling. Moreover, while the record reveals that the medical expenses relating to the

[ 469 Pa. Page 146]

    birth of Robert Dale were paid for by Mr. Goodling, who at that time was appellee's employer, the appellee signed a note in exchange for the money. Appellee testified that the loan was necessary as he did not carry any medical insurance. The loan has never been repaid however.

Appellee Young and appellant Mrs. Goodling were divorced in December of 1971. Mr. Goodling obtained a divorce from his first wife in April of 1973. Appellants were married to each other in May of 1973.

Appellee continued throughout to support Robert Dale pursuant to the August 1971 separation agreement and appellants accepted this money without any demonstrated hesitation until after their marriage. Appellee continued to send weekly support checks until June of 1974 when Mrs. Goodling returned to him, without explanation, one full year of support checks by mail.

One last incident is necessary to add to this saga; that is, in April of 1973, prior to Mr. Goodling's divorce from his first wife, appellee Young filed a habeas corpus petition regarding custody of the youngster. Upon receiving notice of this action, Mrs. Goodling and the child moved out of Mr. Goodling's house and went to live with her parents. The Cumberland County Common Pleas Court, Orphans' Court Division, entered an Order dated April 4, 1973, awarding custody of the child to his mother with temporary custody and visitation rights in Robert Young.*fn3

I. Petition Seeking the Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Robert R. Young

Appellant Judith (Young) Goodling's petition under Section 311(3) of the Adoption Act, supra, fails in that the facts as proven on the record are insufficient to establish that appellee "is the presumptive but not the

[ 469 Pa. Page 147]

    natural father of" Robert Dale Young. Mrs. Goodling had petitioned the court below to order appellee to submit to the taking of blood grouping tests along with the child and both appellants. That court correctly refused to make such an order on the ground that the doctrine of ...

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