No. 00037 HARRISBURG, 1984, Appeal from an Order Entered December 27, 1983, in the Court of Common Pleas, Orphans Division, of Lebanon County, No. 181 of 1983.
Horace M. Ehrgood, Lebanon, for appellant.
Philip B. Ebersole, Lebanon, for appellee.
Wickersham, Wieand and Hester, JJ. Wieand, J., filed a dissenting statement.
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This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County terminating appellant's parental rights. Appellant alleges that the trial court abused its discretion by severing his right to his three children. For the following reasons, we affirm the Order of the court below.
Appellant and his former wife, appellee herein, were married on April 6, 1974, and thereafter resided in West
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Virginia. Three children were born to them, Glenn, Brian, and Sarah. In August of 1981, appellant left the marital home and discontinued supporting his wife and children. Appellee and her children therefore returned to her parents' home in Pennsylvania. The parties were divorced in September of 1982, and on February 4, 1983, appellee married Thomas Lookabill. The couple now reside with appellee's three children in Jonestown, Pennsylvania. Appellee's husband desires to adopt the minor children whom he has supported since his marriage to appellee. Consequently, appellee instituted these proceedings to terminate appellant's parental rights to said children.
The appropriate standard of review in cases involving the termination of parental rights has been recently delineated by this Court in In re Adoption of James J., 332 Pa. Super. 486, 481 A.2d 892 (1984). Our appellate function is limited to a determination of whether the decision to terminate parental rights is supported by competent evidence. If our comprehensive review of the record does not reveal an abuse of discretion, an error of law, or insufficient evidentiary support for the lower court's findings, the order must stand.
The burden of proving that parental rights should be terminated rests upon the party seeking to terminate another's parental rights. To prevail, the petitioner must produce clear and convincing evidence which instills in the mind of the court a firm conviction or belief. Id., 332 Pa. Superior Ct. at 492, 481 A.2d at 896; Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 102 S.Ct. 1388, 71 L.Ed.2d 599 (1982).
Through a showing of clear and convincing evidence, the petitioner may establish the following ground which warrants the termination of parental rights:
The parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months either has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or has ...