No. 83 March Term, 1978, Appeal from the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania, Orphans' Court Division, Dated May 2, 1978, pertaining to a Petition for the Guardianship of the Person of R.L.L., a minor
Sanford S. Finder, Washington, for appellant.
John J. Hickton, John J. Dean, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino, Larsen, Flaherty, JJ. Manderino, J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Roberts, J., files a dissenting opinion in which Eagen, C. J., joins.
This matter comes to this Court on appeal from an award of guardianship of the person in favor of the paternal grandparents, appellees, by the Washington County Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Division.
K. L., appellant, and G. L. were divorced by a decree issued from the Cameron County Court in April, 1977. Prior to the divorce, on March 25, 1977, and the consent of appellant, G. L. took his minor daughter, R. L., to her paternal grandparents' home in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in order that she might receive medical attention. On April 4, 1977, appellant petitioned the Cameron County Court of Common Pleas for a writ of habeas corpus awarding her custody of the child. Preliminary objections as to that court's jurisdiction and venue, filed by the father, were dismissed and custody awarded to the appellant. That decision was appealed to the Superior Court and affirmed. Liggitt v. Liggitt, 253 Pa. Super. 126, 384 A.2d 1261 (1978). On July 1, 1977, the grandparents (appellees) with whom the child had continued to live since her placement with them in March of 1977, petitioned the Washington County Court, Orphans' Division, for appointment as guardians of her person.*fn1 On July 8, 1977, appellant filed for a writ of habeas
corpus in Washington County Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, and also contested the guardianship proceeding pending in the Orphans' Court of that same county, specifically objecting to its jurisdiction and venue. The objections were dismissed and appellees appointed guardians. The instant direct appeal was filed pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 722(3).
Appellant contends that the Washington County Court was without jurisdiction.*fn2 A number of arguments are offered in support of this contention. We will discuss them seriatim. Appellant first suggests that section 712 of the Probate Estates and Fiduciary Code, 20 Pa.C.S.A. § 712, requires the conclusion that the jurisdiction of the subject matter was in Cameron County and not in Washington County.*fn3 The reason offered to support this argument is
that since the Cameron County Court of Common Pleas first accepted jurisdiction over the habeas corpus petition filed by appellant, it was the purpose of section 712 to prevent any other court from considering a related matter. This contention clearly misperceives the meaning of ...