C.R. Appellant D.M.W.
C.R. Appellant C.R. Appellant
A.I.W. C.R. Appellant
from the Order June 21, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of
Lawrence County Civil Division at No(s): 10114 of 2013, C.A.,
10671 of 2012, C.A., 11060 of 2012, C.A., 11491 of 2008, C.A.
BEFORE: BOWES, OLSON, and STRASSBURGER [*] , JJ.
C.R. ("Grandfather"), appeals from the order
entered June 21, 2016, in the Court of Common Pleas of
Lawrence County, which denied the relief requested in his
motion for reconsideration, and directed that he does not
have standing to seek primary physical custody of his
grandchildren, D.W.1, a female born in September 2001, D.W.2,
a male born in October 2006, C.C., a male born in September
2009, and L.C., a female born in March 2012 (collectively,
"the Grandchildren"). After careful review, we
quash the appeal.
is the maternal grandfather of the Grandchildren. The
Grandchildren's mother, A.I.W. ("Mother"),
exercises primary physical custody of the Grandchildren,
while Grandfather exercises partial physical custody. The
father of D.W.1 and D.W.2 is D.M.W., the father of L.C. is
L.J.C., and the father of C.C. is M.C. Pursuant to the
parties' most recent custody order, entered March 19,
2015, none of these fathers maintains an award of physical
custody. However, the order awards Mother and Grandfather
shared legal custody of the Grandchildren, "together
with the appropriate father." Order, 3/19/2015, at
November 23, 2015, D.M.W., acting pro se, filed a
petition for modification of custody, in which he requested
primary physical custody of D.W.2. Shortly thereafter, on
December 31, 2015, Grandfather also filed a petition for
modification of custody, in which he requested primary
physical custody of all four Grandchildren. The trial court
held a pre-trial conference on March 10, 2016. During the
conference, Mother argued that Grandfather lacked standing to
seek primary physical custody of the Grandchildren. N.T.,
3/10/2016, at 6. Grandfather argued, inter alia,
that he had standing to seek primary physical custody
pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 5324(3)(iii)(B), because the
Grandchildren were at risk due to parental abuse or neglect.
N.T., 3/10/2016, at 22-29. In order to address
Grandfather's concerns, the court, on March 10, 2016,
entered an order directing the Grandchildren's guardian
ad litem to conduct an investigation and issue a
report within ninety days. The order provided that the court
would schedule a custody hearing after receiving the guardian
ad litem's report.
filed a motion for reconsideration on April 6, 2016, which
the trial court granted that same day. On May 6, 2016, Mother
filed a motion for reconsideration of the order granting
Grandfather's motion for reconsideration. On June 21,
2016, the court entered the order complained of on appeal, in
which it denied the relief requested in Grandfather's
motion for reconsideration, and concluded that Grandfather
does not have standing to seek primary physical custody of
the Grandchildren. The order also denied the relief requested
in Mother's motion for reconsideration. Grandfather
timely filed a notice of appeal on July 20, 2016. The court
ordered Grandfather to file a concise statement of errors
complained of on appeal, and Grandfather timely complied on
August 16, 2016.
now raises the following issue for our review: "Whether
the trial court erred in finding that  [G]randfather lacks
standing to pursue custody of Grandchildren[?]"
Grandfather's Brief at 8 (unnecessary capitalization
reaching the merits of Grandfather's issue, we initially
consider whether the June 21, 2016 order was appealable.
"'[S]ince we lack jurisdiction over an unappealable
order it is incumbent on us to determine, sua sponte
when necessary, whether the appeal is taken from an
appealable order.'" Gunn v. Automobile Ins. Co.
of Hartford, Connecticut, 971 A.2d 505, 508 (Pa. Super.
2009), quoting Kulp v. Hrivnak, 765 A.2d 796, 798
(Pa. Super. 2000).
well-settled that, "[a]n appeal lies only from a final
order, unless permitted by rule or statute." Stewart
v. Foxworth, 65 A.3d 468, 471 (Pa. Super. 2013).
Generally, a final order is one that disposes of all claims
and all parties. See Pa.R.A.P. 341(b). "[A]
custody order will be considered final and appealable only if
it is both: 1) entered after the court has completed its
hearings on the merits; and 2) intended by the court to
constitute a complete resolution of the custody claims
pending between the parties." G.B. v. M.M.B.,
670 A.2d 714, 720 (Pa. Super. 1996).
our review of the record confirms that the June 21, 2016
order is not final. At the time the trial court entered this
order, the petition to modify custody filed by D.M.W.
remained pending and was unaddressed by the court's
directive. In addition, although the court concluded that
Grandfather could not seek primary physical custody of the
Grandchildren, it did not indicate that it was denying or
dismissing Grandfather's petition to modify. The court
concluded that Grandfather retains the ability to seek
partial physical custody, and it is not clear if Grandfather
intends to pursue an expanded award of partial physical
custody in lieu of primary physical custody. Thus,
we conclude that the court has not completed its hearings on
the merits, and that the June 21, 2016 order was not intended
to completely resolve the custody claims pending between the
we observe that the June 21, 2016 order is not appealable
pursuant to the collateral order doctrine. See
Pa.R.A.P. 313(a) (providing that an appeal may be taken as of
right from a collateral order of a lower court). "A
collateral order is an order separable from and collateral to
the main cause of action where the right involved is too
important to be denied review and the question presented is
such that if review is postponed until final judgment in the
case, the claim will be irreparably lost." Pa.R.A.P.
313(b). Here, the challenged order fails to meet the third
prong of the collateral order doctrine, as Grandfather's
claim will not be irreparably lost if we postpone review of
this matter until the entry of a final order. Since the trial
court did not dismiss Grandfather's petition to modify
and, furthermore, concluded that he retained the right to
seek partial physical custody, Grandfather will be able to
lodge an appeal once a final custody order is entered. At
that time, he may challenge the trial court's
determination that he lacks standing to pursue primary
physical custody, as well as any other rulings he deems to be
we hold that the June 21, 2016 order is not a final order,
nor is it appealable as a collateral order. As we are without
jurisdiction to address ...