No. 429 October Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, Civil Action, Law, No. 3951 of 1977.
Daniel K. Deardorff, Carlisle, for appellant.
Wayne F. Shade, Carlisle, for appellee Jeanne M. White.
Price, Spaeth and Watkins, JJ.
[ 270 Pa. Super. Page 166]
This appeal arises from the order of the trial court granting custody of Patricia A. White and Edward H. White to their natural mother, Jeanne M. White. For the following reasons, we set aside that order and remand the case for the filing of a full opinion.
Jeanne M. White (hereinafter referred to as the mother) and William G. White, appellant herein, were married in Thailand on September 9, 1963. At that time, appellant was an American Army Officer and the mother was a native to the country. Two children were born of this union, Patricia on June 6, 1964, and Edward on June 6, 1965. The marriage encountered some difficulties, but remained relatively stable until May 2, 1977. On that date, the mother discovered appellant in a hotel room with another woman. Both parties became considerably upset over the incident, and the mother testified that appellant informed her that he did not desire to have her and that she was not to have any conversation with the children. For the next month, appellant frequently absented himself from the couple's residence for reasons allegedly connected with his employment. During this period, appellant's marital difficulties were apparently communicated to his superiors in the Justice Department,
[ 270 Pa. Super. Page 167]
which resulted in a demand upon him to take corrective measures or find his position terminated. Attempts to arrange a solution agreeable to both his employer and wife failed, and his contract with the federal government was terminated.*fn1 The mother, together with the children, ultimately left Thailand on August 7, 1977, and settled in a unit of a Cumberland County motel owned by both parties.
Following his dismissal in Thailand, appellant traveled throughout Europe from August 30 until his return to the motel property on or about September 21, 1977, where he resided, with his brother, in a residence which was connected to the motel. On October 28, 1977, the mother filed a petition, and appellant a cross-petition, for custody of the children. This appeal was filed following the award of custody to the mother.
Preliminarily, it is well established that the scope of review of this court in such disputes is of the broadest type. Commonwealth ex rel. Spriggs v. Carson, 470 Pa. 290, 368 A.2d 635 (1977); Commonwealth ex rel. Myers v. Myers, 468 Pa. 134, 360 A.2d 587 (1976); In re Custody of Neal, 260 Pa. Super. 151, 393 A.2d 1057 (1978). Although we will not usurp the fact-finding function of the trial court, we are not bound by deductions or inferences made by the hearing judge from the facts as found. Trefsgar v. Trefsgar, 261 Pa. Super. 1, 395 A.2d 273 (1978); Commonwealth ex rel. Ulmer v. Ulmer, 231 Pa. Super. 144, 331 A.2d 665 (1974); Commonwealth ex rel. Grillo v. Shuster, 226 Pa. Super. 229, 312 A.2d 58 (1973). Because of the Commonwealth's legitimate and overriding concern for the well-being of its children, we are required to render an independent judgment based on the evidence and testimony and make such order on the merits of the case as to effect a just result. Spells v. Spells, 250 Pa. Super. 168, 378 A.2d 879 (1977); Commonwealth ex rel. Zeedick v. Zeedick, 213 Pa. Super. 114, 245 A.2d 663 (1968). So as to facilitate this broad review, we
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have consistently emphasized that the hearing court must provide us not only with a complete record, Augustine v. Augustine, 228 Pa. Super. 312, 324 A.2d 477 (1974), but also with a complete and comprehensive opinion which contains a thorough analysis of the record ans specific reasons for the court's ultimate decision. Martincheck v. Martincheck, 262 Pa. Super. 346, 396 A.2d 788 (1979); Tobias v. Tobias, 248 Pa. Super. 168, 374 A.2d 1372 (1977); Gunter v. Gunter, 240 Pa. Super. ...