Amanda S. Tooch v. Brian M. Lynk, PICS Case No. 14-0061 (C.P. Lawrence, Jan. 2, 2014) Hodge, J. (10 pages).

COURTS OF COMMON PLEAS

The Legal Intelligencer

FAMILY LAW

Custody and Child Support • Paternity by Estoppel • Best Interests of the Child • Petition to Intervene

Amanda S. Tooch v. Brian M. Lynk, PICS Case No. 14-0061 (C.P. Lawrence, Jan. 2, 2014) Hodge, J. (10 pages).

Additional intervenor Samuel G. Hart filed a petition to intervene with defendant Brian M. Lynk motioning for contempt and modification of custody. Petition to Intervene was granted.

Plaintiff Amanda S. Tooch filed for primary custody of the minor child, Braydon Lynk. Following a trial in Beaver County, Pa., the court awarded primary custody to Tooch with supervised partial custody right to Lynk. Approximately one year later, Donna Newsom, the alleged paternal grandmother, filed a petition to intervene which was granted by the court. Subsequently Newsom filed for partial custody arguing she "enjoyed a good relationship with the minor child." After a custody conciliation conference, the custody order was modified granting Tooch primary physical with partial custody to Newsom on the second weekend of each month. Shortly thereafter, Hart filed a petition to intervene asserting he was the natural father of the minor child following a DNA test; Hart alleged Tooch consented to his visiting with the child. The case was then transferred to the court of common pleas without objection.

Hart filed a complaint for paternity which was objected to by the defendants; objections were overruled. Before the court for consideration was Hart's petition to interevene arguing a biological father has the right to intervene under Pa.R.Civ.P. 1915.6. Lynk opposed arguing the doctrine of paternity by estoppel, as Tooch consistently held Lynk out to be the father during the first two years of the child's life. Further, Lynk signed an acknowledgment of paternity and maintained his support obligations.

The court granted Hart's request to intervene as neither Lynk nor Hart actively deceived the court, they came before the court with clean hands. Lynk was an active participant in the child's life and Hart promptly initiated his paternity rights, as well as visitation, upon finding out he was the biological father. The court held that both Lynk and Hart were "emotionally invested in the minor child and that the minor child has a valuable relationship with both men." The court held the right of Hart to intervene is in the child's best interest.