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C.P. APPEAL C.P. (12/02/87)

decided: December 2, 1987.

IN THE INTEREST OF C.P. APPEAL OF C.P.


Appeal from Superior Court Order of June 11, 1986, No. 1091 Pittsburgh 1985, reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Juvenile Division, October 28, 1985, No. 254 of 1985, Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion. Hutchinson, Former J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Flaherty

[ 516 Pa. Page 542]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from an order of the Superior Court which reversed an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in a case involving the return of a runaway child under provisions of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, 62 P.S. § 731. In accordance with provisions of this Compact, a requisition had been filed in North Carolina by the father of the runaway child requesting that the child, C.P., be returned from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

At the time of running away from home, C.P. resided with her father in North Carolina, though at various times prior thereto she had resided with her mother, inasmuch as C.P.'s parents were separated. The mother of C.P. had relinquished primary custody to the father. Born on July 26, 1971, C.P. was merely twelve years of age when she became pregnant via her mother's lover, twenty-four year old Gregory Kline. As a result, on December 2, 1984, C.P. gave birth to a son, J.P. Gregory Kline was accordingly charged in North Carolina with statutory rape. Following the birth of J.P., C.P. resided with her infant son at her father's home until, in February of 1985, she took J.P. and ran away to Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, C.P. and J.P. took up residence with Mrs. Katherine Kline, the mother of Gregory Kline, and C.P. resumed a limited and somewhat supervised romantic relationship with Gregory Kline, seeing him several times per week. Authorities in Pennsylvania subsequently received a requisition from North Carolina

[ 516 Pa. Page 543]

    pursuant to the Interstate Compact on Juveniles seeking the return of C.P.

The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County held a hearing to determine whether it would be in the child's best interests to be returned, and, because C.P. testified that she had been abused by her father, determined that the child's interests would best be served by remaining in Pennsylvania. It is to be noted that, although the parents of C.P. were provided legal notice of the hearing in Pennsylvania, they were not in attendance. Also, a social services agency in North Carolina had furnished Children and Youth Services of Allegheny County with a letter stating that, immediately upon C.P.'s return to North Carolina, C.P. would be picked up by a social worker who would investigate the case in the event that C.P. expressed serious reservations about her safety. Nevertheless, based upon its assessment of the child's best interests, the Court of Common Pleas declined to honor the requisition for the return of C.P. An appeal was taken to the Superior Court, whereupon C.P. and J.P. were ordered to go back to North Carolina. In re C.P., 354 Pa. Super. 107, 511 A.2d 210 (1986). The Superior Court held that, under provisions of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, it was improper for the court below to have conducted an inquiry into the child's best interests, and that such an inquiry was reserved for the requisitioning state. We agree.

The relevant language of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles clearly places upon courts in the requisitioning state, in this case North Carolina, the burden of determining the best interests of the child. Upon receipt by a court of a petition for issuance of a requisition order, where such a petition has been filed by a person claiming legal custody of a runaway child, the court is directed to proceed as follows under provisions of 62 P.S. § 731, Art. IV (a):

The judge of the court to which this application is made may hold a hearing thereon to determine whether for the purposes of this compact the petitioner is entitled to the legal custody of the juvenile, whether or not it appears

[ 516 Pa. Page 544]

    that the juvenile has in fact run away without consent, whether or not he is an emancipated minor, and whether or not it is in the best interest of the juvenile to compel his return to the state. If the judge determines, either with or without a hearing, that the juvenile should be returned, he shall present to the appropriate court or to the executive authority of the state where the juvenile is alleged to be located a written requisition for the return of such juvenile.

(Emphasis added).

Further, the necessary form of the requisition order is specified in 62 ...


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