No. 1275 April Term, 1978, No. 1339 April Term, 1978, No. 1340 April Term, 1978, No. 1525 April Term, 1978, Appeals from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. D-404 of 1974
Edward G. Shoemaker, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
June S. Schulberg, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Cercone, President Judge, and Montgomery and Lipez, JJ.
[ 285 Pa. Super. Page 363]
The instant appeal is but the most recent step in a disagreement between the parties concerning the custody of the parties' two minor children, Crystal and Billy. Appellant, Sharon Joann Wolf [hereinafter referred to as "the mother"], asks this Court to overturn the decision of the trial court, which awarded custody of both children to Arthur William Weymers [hereinafter referred to as "the father"]. The mother raises a number of issues, but the crux of the argument is that the courts of Allegheny County, where this custody was decided, did not have jurisdiction to rule on this case. We have carefully reviewed each of the mother's arguments but have found them to be lacking in merit.
The instant case had its inception on August 24, 1977, when the mother filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. At that time, the mother was a resident of Missouri and the father was a resident of Pennsylvania; furthermore, at that time the children were living with the father in his Beaver County Home. On the same date as this action was filed, the mother went to the home of the children's babysitter and took the children back to Missouri with her. Consequently, the father filed a counterclaim for custody.
In due course, a hearing was held on this matter in the courts of Allegheny County. At this hearing, both sides were represented by counsel, although only the father appeared
[ 285 Pa. Super. Page 364]
personally.*fn1 Following this hearing on April 5, 1978, the trial court ordered custody of the children be awarded to the father. The mother took no appeal from this order of court. Subsequent to this ruling, the father did regain physical custody of Crystal but did not regain similar custody of Billy.
Five months after the above custody decree was entered, the mother, by new counsel, filed a "Petition to Strike and/or Vacate and/or Open" the custody order. (At that time the mother had moved to Illinois). After legal argument by counsel, the court issued an order granting temporary custody of the children to the father pending a full custody hearing, the exact date for which hearing was fixed by a subsequent order of court. Thereafter, the father petitioned the lower court for enforcement of the April 5, 1978 order granting him permanent custody. A hearing was held on the basis of the petition and as a result thereof the lower court directed the mother to comply with its prior orders granting custody to the father by bringing their son, Billy, before the court on a specified date, or else be held in contempt. The mother did not comply with this order and, after a hearing, the court below found the mother to be in contempt.
The mother raises numerous issues in her appeal. First, the mother argues that the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County did not obtain jurisdiction to make a child custody determination when, in August, 1977, the mother filed her habeas corpus petition in Allegheny County. The mother bases her contention on the fact that on the date in question, she was living in Kansas City, Missouri, and that the father was living with the two children in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Although it was the ...