Robert C. Rowe, Lebanon, for appellant.
Keith L. Kilgore, Lebanon, for appellee.
Wickersham, Johnson and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 336 Pa. Super. Page 493]
In this case, we are presented with the difficult question of which parent should have primary custody of their minor child. This appeal is taken from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County granting primary custody of Douglas Haag to his father, Dennis T. Haag. Appellant is the boy's mother, Donna J. Haag.
Dennis (hereinafter "Father") and Donna (hereinafter "Mother") were married in April of 1965. Two children were born of the marriage: Denise, presently aged 18 and Douglas, presently aged 10.*fn1 The marriage was troubled, and on July 21, 1981, mother left the marital home, taking with her some personal items and Douglas. Upon her
[ 336 Pa. Super. Page 494]
return from a vacation, Denise remained with Father. Shortly thereafter, the parties entered into a consent agreement for custody, visitation, and support, whereby the custody of Douglas would be with Mother and the custody of Denise would be with Father. In November of 1981, Father began divorce proceedings against Mother.
In February of 1982, Father apparently changed his mind and filed a petition for custody of Douglas with the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County. A conference was scheduled and held on February 26, 1982, but left the question of Douglas' custody unresolved. Home studies of both parties were conducted, and on August 11, 1982, a hearing was held before the Honorable G. Thomas Gates, P.J. Psychological testing and evaluation was ordered and taken of Mother, Father, Denise, and Douglas. After the filing of the psychological reports of the family, another hearing was held before Judge Gates on November 24, 1982. Thereafter, on January 3, 1983, Judge Gates issued the following decree:
AND NOW, to wit, January 3, A.D., 1983, after hearing, and in consideration of all of the testimony, the home study reports and the psychological evaluations we award primary custody of Douglas T. Haag to his natural father Dennis T. Haag. The natural mother Donna J. Haag shall have reasonable rights of visitation as the parties may agree. Failing to agree Donna Haag shall have the following periods of temporary custody away from the home of Dennis T. Haag:
A. Donna Haag shall have temporary custody of her son Douglas T. Haag from 6:00 p.m. on Friday until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday on alternate weekends commencing on Friday, January 7, 1983.
B. The alternate weekend temporary custody shall be suspended during the following major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. During these holidays, the length in visitation periods shall be equal to the child's school vacation. Douglas shall spend the ...