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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA EX REL. MARY ANN GORTO v. ANDREW GORTO AND STELLA GORTO (04/30/82)

filed: April 30, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA EX REL. MARY ANN GORTO
v.
ANDREW GORTO AND STELLA GORTO, APPELLANTS



No. 1808 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Action Law, Luzerne County, No. 7233 of 1978.

COUNSEL

Frank Townend, Wilkes-Barre, for appellants.

Janet A. Conser, Wilkes-Barre, for appellee.

Johnson, Montemuro and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Montemuro

[ 298 Pa. Super. Page 510]

The instant matter presents a custody contention in which the mother of a child has sought to regain her daughter from the parents of her second husband, former stepfather to this child.

The child was the offspring of an early first marriage which was annulled prior to the child's birth. When the mother remarried, she left the child with her own mother

[ 298 Pa. Super. Page 511]

    for about three months, after which the child joined the mother and stepfather and step-grandparents in a single household.

The new husband became increasingly violent, at one point threatening to kill his wife and stepchild with a shotgun. After about eighteen months, the older couple requested that the younger couple move out to their own apartment, which they did. The child remained with her step-grandparents, which was certainly a safer place for her in view of the violent abuse of the wife that ensued. Within months, the wife separated from her second husband.

The mother was unwelcome at her in-law's house unless she pretended to be trying to reconcile with their son. She was told that she no longer had legal custody of her child, but she persisted in visiting and calling and sending gifts. Eventually she went to the Luzerne County United Services Agency to find out how to regain her child. She was referred to Legal Services and thereafter filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus.

The step-grandparents appealed the decision to return this child to her natural mother on the following grounds: (1) that the best interests of the child lay in her custody with them; (2) the mother is mentally, morally, and psychologically unfit for custody; (3) the record is imperfect ...


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