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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA EX REL. JUDY DEEMER STRUNK v. RONALD CUMMINS AND SANDRA CUMMINS (10/20/78)

decided: October 20, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA EX REL. JUDY DEEMER STRUNK
v.
RONALD CUMMINS AND SANDRA CUMMINS, HIS WIFE, APPELLEES. APPEAL OF JUDY DEEMER STRUNK



No. 2227 October Term, 1977, Appeal from the Opinion and Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, Civil Division, No. 217 August Term, 1975.

COUNSEL

Vickie Ann Gillio, Easton, for appellant.

Carl F. Skinner, Easton, submitted a brief for appellees.

Jacobs, President Judge, and Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, Spaeth and Hester, JJ. Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Cercone

[ 258 Pa. Super. Page 327]

This is an appeal from the order of Judge Richard D. Grifo of the Northampton County Court awarding custody of infant Terry Deemer, Jr. to Ronald and Sandra Cummins, the child's uncle and aunt, rather than to the child's natural

[ 258 Pa. Super. Page 328]

    mother, Judy Deemer Strunk. Mrs. Strunk now appeals from the lower court's decision. Having given this matter careful consideration, we reverse the lower court and order that Mrs. Strunk be given custody of her son.

Terry Deemer, Jr. is Judy Strunk's son by her marriage to Terry Deemer, Sr. The child was born on January 15, 1973. Approximately eight months after the infant's birth, Terry Deemer, Sr. left his wife, who was then 17 years old, and their infant son in a one-room apartment without financial support. Because her husband had not paid the gas bill, appellant and her son did not even have benefit of hot water. Appellant managed for several months, first by living with the family of her girlfriend, then with her own family, and finally by herself. This last place consisted of only one room and lacked cooking facilities. In this difficult situation, Judy managed as well as she was able, taking her son to restaurants to feed him. Appellant took Terry, Jr. to a medical clinic regularly in attending to the child's medical needs.

Appellant recognized that she herself was suffering from the strain when she became very "nervous." Still, her main concern was her child and her care of him. Appellant was seriously considering putting her child in a foster home when her aunt and uncle, the Cumminses, offered to take the boy. However, the Cumminses said that they would only take Terry, Jr. if they could adopt him. At this time, Terry was one and a half years old and appellant, not knowing what else to do, agreed.

Soon after placing her son in the Cumminses' home, appellant asked to visit Terry, Jr. and the Cumminses refused this request and all others. After six months elapsed, appellant spoke with the Cumminses' lawyer, who agreed that appellant should be allowed to see her son. Thereafter, appellant regularly visited Terry, Jr., though the Cumminses limited each visit to two hours.

Appellant claims that she talked to the Cumminses sometime around July of 1975 and asked them to give back her son. The Cumminses ...


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