No. 481 PITTSBURGH, 1982, Appeal from an Order of April 7, 1982, in the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Butler County, No. 81-362.
Robert F. Hawk, Assistant District Attorney, Butler, for appellants.
Marilyn Horan-Reeder, Butler, for appellee.
Cercone, P.j., and Spaeth and Hester, JJ.
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This case centers on a struggle for the custody of two minor children, Jonathan Daniel Weber, born April 27, 1976, and Dale Evan Cady, born August 13, 1977. The contestants are the children's natural mother, appellee herein, and appellants, who are the maternal grandparents of the children.
Jonathan and Dale have resided with appellants almost since birth. Appellee was seventeen when she gave birth to Jonathan; Dale was born sixteen months later. During this time period, appellee and her children resided with her parents on a sporadic basis. Shortly before Dale's birth, she married her present husband. Dale immediately developed serious medical problems, necessitating lengthy hospital stays. Appellee remained with her infant while her older child was cared for by appellants. In July of 1978, appellee and her husband moved to Nevada to seek employment. Until such time as she and her husband resolved some marital problems and were settled into their new life, appellee decided to leave her children with appellants. To that end, she signed a formal agreement transferring legal custody of Jonathan and Dale to her parents. When appellee thereafter requested the return of her children approximately four months later, appellants refused to surrender custody. Habeas corpus proceedings were instituted, and evidentiary hearings were held on March 5 and March 10, 1982. On April 7, 1982, the lower court entered an Order awarding custody to appellee. It is from this Order that appellants have perfected this appeal.
Appellants argue that the opinion of the lower court lacked a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the record and failed to include specific reasons for its decision. Thus, they contend that the Order of Court in its present form is unenforceable. Specifically, they assert that the lower court failed to comply with Pa.R.C.P. No. 1915.10(a), which states in pertinent part:
"In contested actions for custody and partial custody, the court shall . . . include the reasons for its decision,
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which . . . may be in narrative form, and shall make an appropriate order which shall be a final order for purposes of appeal."
Adopted December 10, 1981, effective July 1, 1982.
Appellee avers that Rule 1915.10(a) only became effective subsequent to the date of the lower court opinion herein, which was filed on April 7, 1982. Consequently, the trial judge was not bound to follow the mandate of that rule. Rather, according to appellee, at that time ...