NO. 1185 APRIL TERM, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Greene County, at No. 39 May Term, 1978.
Ewing B. Pollock, Waynesburg, for appellants.
Debbie O'Dell, Washington, for appellees.
Van der Voort, Spaeth and Watkins, JJ.
[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 296]
This is an appeal by the mother of two small children from a lower court Order granting custody of the children to their father, the ex husband of appellant.
[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 297]
Appellant, Marianne Hoejmi, is a native of Denmark. She met Thomas Zaubi Sr., a native of Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, while the latter was serving with the U. S. Air Force in Europe. The couple were married on May 9, 1968. Following Thomas Sr.'s discharge they took up residence first in Denver, Colorado, and then Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where their first child, Thomas Jr. was born July 29, 1970. Two months after his birth, the Zaubis took their son and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, where Thomas Sr. found employment with IBM and Marianne with a hospital as a nurse. A second child, daughter Kirstine Inez, was born in Copenhagen on November 2, 1973.
In December 1974, the Zaubis returned to Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, to spend the holidays, planning to return to Denmark in January 1975. On December 29, 1974, Thomas Sr. told his wife that he would not return to Denmark and would not permit the children to return either; but that Mrs. Zaubi could stay with the family or return to Denmark as she pleased. Mr. Zaubi had not given his employer, IBM, notice of his intentions and was unemployed until March 1975 when he was again hired by IBM, this time to work in Cleveland, Ohio. Meantime, Mrs. Zaubi traveled to Denmark to close their apartment and then returned to Nemacolin with the family clothes and the children's toys.
In April 1975, approximately one month after the family moved to Cleveland, appellant took her children, without the consent of her husband, back with her to Copenhagen, where she took up temporary residence with her parents. On April 8, 1975, appellant secured an Order from a Danish court giving her temporary custody of her children. Appellant subsequently moved into an apartment and regained her previous position as nurse.
Soon after Thomas Sr. returned to Copenhagen, again as an employee of IBM. He brought suit in the Danish courts to get custody of his children. Mr. Zaubi was represented by counsel and informed the court that his knowledge of spoken Danish was sufficient that the services of an interpreter would not be required. On November 26, 1975, after
[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 298]
several hearings, custody was granted in favor of appellant with limited visitation rights to Mr. Zaubi. Visitation was initially restricted to the appellant's apartment for fear that if left alone with the children Mr. Zaubi would take them outside Denmark.
Thomas Sr. filed an appeal with the High Court of Denmark, the final appellate court, and a hearing was conducted. On April 13, 1976 the Court entered an order affirming the lower court.
On April 6, 1977, appellant secured the naturalization of both children. On June 15, 1977, Thomas Sr. also became a naturalized Danish citizen. On June 16, 1977, appellant received a final divorce decree from Thomas Zaubi Sr. At this time Mr. Zaubi was able to again appeal his case for custody of the children to the High Court of Denmark and another hearing was scheduled for November 17, 1977. On August 30, 1977, while the children were in his care during a visitation period, and while his custody appeal was pending, Mr. Zaubi fled with the children back to the United States. As a result of this ...