Appeal from the Order of August 22, 2011 In the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County Civil Division at No(s): A06-07-61401C
BEFORE: PANELLA, LAZARUS, and STRASSBURGER,*fn1 JJ.
Michael Orozco (Father) appeals from the trial court's order granting Appellee, Fawn Wilson (Mother), sole legal custody and primary physical custody*fn2 of the parties' four-year-old daughter, O.O. (Child). Father was granted two-hours (5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.) of supervised visitation with Child twice a week. After careful review, we affirm.
Child was born on June 13, 2007; Mother and Father never married. Custody litigation between the parties started even before Child was born. In September 2008, the parties entered into a private custody evaluation with Dr. Steven Cohen; the evaluation was completed in December 2008 and distributed to the parties. On November 2, 2009, by agreement of the parties, a custody order was entered that granted shared legal custody to the parties and primary physical custody of Child to Mother. Father was granted partial physical custody for a period of six days and six overnights on a rotating two-week basis.
On January 7, 2011, Father filed a Protection from Abuse (PFA) Act petition alleging that Mother and her boyfriend, Kevin Moyer, were physically, emotionally, psychologically and sexually abusing Child. Based upon these same abuse allegations, Father filed an emergency petition to modify custody on January 20, 2011.*fn3 The trial court held a hearing and continued the PFA matter for 30 days, directing that the matter be heard with the custody petition. After Father filed the petition to modify custody*fn4 requesting that the court issue an order granting him full physical and legal custody of child "until such time as the Child is capable of evading physically and emotionally abus[ive] situations with Mother and her Paramour," Mother filed a contempt petition alleging that Father's allegations of abuse were false and that he had subjected Child to evaluations by experts without her knowledge and consent. Mother requested that the court grant her sole legal custody and require that Father's visits with Child be supervised.
The trial court held a consolidated hearing on the custody, contempt and PFA matters over the course of seven days in April and May of 2011. On June 9, 2011, the trial court entered a temporary custody order giving Mother sole legal and physical custody of Child and requiring Father's visits with Child be supervised to prevent him from having Child subjected to additional doctor visits or physical examinations. Mother's supervised custody periods were lifted at this time. Father filed motion to recuse and a mistrial on June 16, 2011; the court held all custody proceedings in abeyance until it ultimately denied the motions.
After hearing extensive testimony and reviewing numerous exhibits, the court found that all evidence of abuse when Child was in Mother's custody was completely unfounded, that there was no evidence to substantiate Father's beliefs and "that Father, in fact, manufactured the evidence in order to gain custody and control over his daughter without interference from or consultation with Mother [and] that this heinous attempt to wrest custody from Mother and, in effect, terminate her relationship with her daughter, is so detrimental to the child's welfare that the court was left no option but to limit his contact with his daughter so as to prevent any further attempt to poison her mind." Trial Court Opinion, 10/6/2011, at 4. Subsequently, on August 22, 2011, the court entered a final custody order directing that Father have two two-hour supervised visits with Child each week, the visits to be arranged at Mother's convenience.*fn5
On appeal, Father raises the following issues for our review:
(1) Whether the trial court abused its discretion, and/or erred as a matter of law, by awarding Mother sole legal and primary physical custody of the Child, with supervised partial physical custody to Father, where such award is against the weight of the evidence in the record, including, but not limited to, credible expert testimony, photographs, and documented long-term observation.
(2) Whether the trial court abused its discretion, and/or erred as a matter of law, by denying Father's Motion to Remove Counsel.
(3) Whether the trial court abused its discretion, and/or erred as a matter of law, by denying Father's Amended Motion for Recusal and Amended Motion for Mistrial, which were based upon the trial court's alleged bias and prejudice against Father.
(4) Whether the trial court abused its discretion, and/or erred as a matter of law, by admitting into evidence a prior custody evaluation report prepared by Dr. Cohen.
(5) Whether the trial court abused its discretion, and/or erred as a matter of law, by entering a Temporary Custody Order on June 9, 2011, which awarded Mother sole legal and physical custody of the Child, with Father to have supervised partial physical ...