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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN M. PIERCE (02/04/81)

decided: February 4, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, EX REL. CAROL ANNE PIERCE, BY HER MOTHER, ELIZABETH C. GRUBE, APPELLEE
v.
JOHN M. PIERCE, APPELLANT



No. 80-3-601, Appeal from order of the Superior Court, No. 2328 October Term, 1978, affirming order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Civil Action - Law, No. 78-6397-12-6.

COUNSEL

Edward D. Foy, Jr., Richboro, for appellant.

Robert M. Hammond, Warrington, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Roberts, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Kauffman

[ 493 Pa. Page 294]

OPINION OF THE COURT

John M. Pierce ("father") appeals from an order of the Superior Court affirming a child custody award entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in favor of his former wife, Elizabeth C. Grube ("mother").*fn1 For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand for entry of a custody order consistent with this opinion.

Father and mother were separated in July 1975 and divorced in June 1976. Carol Anne ("Carol"), born November 19, 1965, is the only child of the marriage. At the time of separation, mother withdrew from the family home in Telford, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and left Carol in the care of her maternal grandmother at her shore home. Shortly thereafter, father brought Carol back to Telford, and mother acquiesced in Carol's express wish to remain with father, which she continued to do until the custody hearing on August 8, 1978. Following the hearing, custody was awarded to mother, and on February 22, 1980, the Superior Court affirmed the award.

Although the testimony of both parties clearly establishes that father made no effort to restrict or deter mother's access to Carol, she visited her infrequently during the three years from separation to custody hearing, and never had her stay overnight. In fact, mother conceded that there was an "extended period of time" when she did not see Carol at all.*fn2

[ 493 Pa. Page 295]

Although mother worked, she contributed nothing to Carol's support.

In December 1976, mother married Kent Grube, father's former brother-in-law. However, it was not until June 1978, after she learned that father was planning to move with Carol to California, that mother for the first time sought custody.

At the time of the hearing, father was a vice-president of Hartman Trailer Manufacturing Company, a family-owned business, and lived in Orange, California with Carol and his fiancee, Sandra Toth, whom he planned to marry in September 1978. The record shows that Sandra and Carol "get ...


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