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ADOPTION J. S. M. (01/30/81)

decided: January 30, 1981.

IN RE ADOPTION OF J. S. M., JR., A MINOR


No. 80-1-100, Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Orphans Court Division, No. 296 of 1979.

COUNSEL

Lorraine D. Taylor, Neighborhood Legal Services, McKeesport, for appellant.

Ira Weiss, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ.

Author: Nix

[ 492 Pa. Page 315]

OPINION OF THE COURT

In this matter, the Orphans' Court Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County involuntarily terminated the parental rights of the natural father pursuant to § 311(1) of the Adoption Act, Act of July 24, 1970, P.L. 620, § 311(1), 1 P.S. § 311(1) (Supp. 1980-81). In this direct appeal, the natural father seeks to challenge the validity of that determination. The question in this case is whether the record reflects that the conduct of the mother of the child posed a legally sufficient barrier so as to preclude appellant from performing his required parental duties.

J. S. M., Jr., was born on December 6, 1968, the second child of James Steven Mursch, Sr. and Veronica Mursch, now Veronica Elkowitz. The parents separated about nine

[ 492 Pa. Page 316]

    months after the birth of the child in question and were divorced on December 23, 1969. The mother remarried, and her new husband, Joseph E. Elkowitz, initiated this proceeding by attempting to adopt J. S. M., Jr. Appellant has also since remarried.

Section 311(1) provides:

The rights of a parent in regard to a child may be terminated . . ., on the ground that: (1) The parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months either has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or has refused or failed to perform parental duties."

Under this provision, it must be established that for a period of six months, appellant either evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishment of his parental claim or that he has refused or failed to perform his parental duties. Matter of Adoption of David C., 479 Pa. 1, 387 A.2d 804 (1978); In re A. M. B., 479 Pa. 193, 387 A.2d 1289 (1978) (Opinion in Support of Reversal); In re Adoption of M. T. T., 467 Pa. 88, 354 A.2d 564 (1976). Since these clauses have been ...


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