No. 872 April Term 1977, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County, Pa. No. 314, Civil Div. 1976, dated May 27, 1977.
John M. Cascio, Somerset, for appellant.
H. Edwin Mountford, Somerset, for appellee.
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.
[ 263 Pa. Super. Page 28]
This is an appeal from an order granting a mother's petition for custody of her two minor daughters. The father of the children contends that the best interests of the children will be served by granting him custody.
[ 263 Pa. Super. Page 29]
The parties were married on December 29, 1968, and had two daughters, Cheryl Lynn, born on June 24, 1970, and Cindy Lynn, born on October 22, 1971. They experienced marital difficulties, separated in May 1974, and were divorced. At the time of the separation the parties agreed that the mother would have custody of the children and that the father could "pick the children up every other weekend Friday and bring them back Sunday evening." (N.T. 4)
The mother testified that in February, 1975, the father picked up the children on a Friday evening but did not return them on the following Sunday. She called the father's mother, who said her son had taken the children on a vacation. Her attempts to locate the children were of no avail*fn1 until September 30, 1976,*fn2 when the Pennsylvania
[ 263 Pa. Super. Page 30]
State Police informed her that her children had been located in Friendsville, Maryland. She and several members of her family went to the school there and after a confrontation with the father, she was permitted to bring the children back to Pennsylvania with her. (N.T. 5-10) Thereafter she filed the petition that was heard by the lower court. The children were living with her at the time of the hearing.
The mother testified that the children had gotten along very well with her since their return from Maryland, had expressed no desire to return to their father, and were doing well in school, with no scholastic or personal problems. She has remarried, and she stated that the children liked their step-father and had no problems in adjusting to living with him. She and her husband and the children lived in a five room apartment in Central City at the time of the hearing. The mother admitted that since her separation from the father, she had been on ...