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HELEN M. CHRZANOWSKI v. JOHN J. CHRZANOWSKI (02/17/84)

filed: February 17, 1984.

HELEN M. CHRZANOWSKI, APPELLANT
v.
JOHN J. CHRZANOWSKI



NO. 1046 PITTSBURGH, 1982, Appeal from the Order entered August 12, 1982, in the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, Family, at No. DR. 10 226-79, No. B. 282 1976 Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

Edward Schellhammer, Johnstown, for appellant.

Mark Alan Gregg, Johnstown, for appellee.

Brosky, McEwen and Beck, JJ. McEwen, J., filed concurring statement.

Author: Beck

[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 301]

Appellant Helen M. Chrzanowski appeals from an August 12, 1982 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County made pursuant to a proceeding under the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (RURESA), 42 Pa.C.S. ยงยง 6741-6780. The Cambria County Court's order granted appellee John J. Chrzanowski's petition for blood tests to determine the paternity of appellant's daughter, Marie Chrzanowski, and suspended an existing Virginia child support order pending completion of the blood tests. We vacate the order.

HISTORY OF THE CASE

An outline of the complex factual and procedural history of this case is necessary to an understanding of the issues involved in this appeal. Appellant and appellee were married in 1948. They adopted a son, Michael, in 1965. From June 1966 through June 1967, appellee, a career Army officer, was stationed in Viet Nam. Marie was born to appellant on December 30, 1967, placing the probable date of conception during the period of appellee's absence from the country.

In 1968, appellant informed appellee that he was not Marie's father. Nevertheless, appellee continued to live in the marital home until the parties separated in 1971. During

[ 325 Pa. Super. Page 302]

    this time it appears that appellee supported Marie and raised her as if she were his child. In 1972, appellant obtained a support order from the Circuit Court of Prince George's County, Maryland (the state of the parties' residence at the time) for herself and the children. The order obligated appellee to pay $200 per month for Marie's support. The Maryland court considered evidence of non-paternity, including both appellant's admissions and blood tests conducted pursuant to the proceedings which excluded paternity. However, the court found that the doctrine of laches prevented appellee from denying paternity or avoiding his support obligation, because he continued living with Marie and her mother for three years, supported Marie, and held her out as his child.

In 1974, appellee filed for divorce in Virginia (appellant had become a Virginia domiciliary). The Circuit Court of Fairfax County granted the divorce on October 1, 1974; the grounds were two years' separation without possibility of reconciliation. The final decree ordered appellee to pay $200 per month per child toward Michael's and Marie's support.*fn1 The Virginia court found, and stated in its decree, "that [appellee] and [appellant] are . . . the parents of Marie Chrzanowski, born December 30, 1967."

Appellant filed a petition for modification of the support order in the Fairfax County court in 1976. Because appellee had moved to Cresson, Pennsylvania, the Virginia court transferred the petition to the Cambria County court for action under RURESA.*fn2 On March 23, 1977, after holding a hearing, the Cambria County court found the amount of the support award adequate, and also directed that a further hearing be held "to determine whether the original Order of July 28, 1972 in the Circuit Court for ...


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