No. 1428 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Civil Division, at No. 80-06063
Robert J. Kerns, Lansdale, for appellants.
Mark E. Weand, Jr., Ambler, for appellee.
Spaeth, Brosky and Hoffman, JJ. Hoffman, J., concurs in the result.
[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 437]
Ignatius and Marion Zaffarano, maternal grandparents of Shannon Genaro, the two and one-half year old daughter of appellee, Richard Genaro, have appealed from the lower court's dismissal of their petition for visitation*fn1 filed against
[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 438]
appellee after he cut off their visitation with Shannon in February, 1980. We reverse.
Appellants contend that it is in Shannon Genaro's best interests that they be granted partial custody of her. They maintain that they have always shown their love and devotion for Shannon and that they desire to continue the relationship they have established with her. It is in Shannon's best interests, they assert, to continue to have a close, loving relationship with her closest maternal relatives.
The denial of permission to see Shannon stems from the untimely death of appellee's wife, Carmella, on December 9, 1979, as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. While she was alive, Carmella Genaro had frequently taken Shannon to visit with her parents, the appellants, at their home nearby. The Zaffaranos played with Shannon, took her shopping, took her to see the ducks in a nearby pond, and, in general, bestowed upon her the special love and affection that grandparents hold for their grandchildren. This pleasant state of affairs was shattered, however, when Carmella Genaro was hospitalized in September, 1979 following the accident. During the period of her hospitalization, a very emotional period for both her husband and appellants, strain developed between Richard Genaro and appellants. Despite the strained relations, however, appellee continued to bring Shannon to see the Zaffaranos a few times a week. In mid-February, 1980, following an argument with his sister-in-law, Donna Zaffarano, appellee cut off all contact with Shannon.
[ 286 Pa. Super. Page 439]
The court below based its decision on two grounds: that grandparents do not have a right of visitation;*fn2 and that because of the animosity existing between appellee and the Zaffaranos, visitation would not be in the child's best interests.
With respect to the first ground, the court cited no authority. Appellee, in his brief, cites the case of Wick v. Wick, 266 Pa. Super. 104, 403 A.2d 115 (1979), for the proposition that grandparents have no inherent right of visitation. Appellee refers to a portion of the opinion in which we stated that "Appellants have not cited any cases to convince us that ...