By Matt Snyder
Herald Staff Writer
February 23, 2009
MERCER COUNTY —
After two years of court battle, Lisa Lewis will get to spend time with the girl she helped to raise for five years.
In granting the Sharon woman visitation with the 7-year-old, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John ruled that Jeanette Rowan, the child’s biological mother and Ms. Lewis’ former partner of 11 years, has been a good parent but also ’controlling and manipulative’ in keeping the girl from Ms. Lewis.
After seeing the girl at the request of Ms. Rowan and her attorney, the judge said he found no reason Ms. Lewis could not also care for the child and awarded Ms. Lewis one hour of supervised visitation a week in March, to be expanded to at least two hours a week in April.
Ms. Lewis said Monday that she would have liked more time with the child, but she’s looking forward to seeing her daughter. ’It’s a start,’ she said. Ms. Lewis has been with the girl just three hours in two years.
She [Ms. Rowan] ’used the PFA proceedings to stop the visitations by (Ms. Lewis) with the minor child and is now acting in bad faith in failing to set up visitations between (Ms. Lewis) and the minor child,’ St. John said.
St. John’s findings also mention Ms. Rowan’s letters, in which she expressed the need for the former lovers to put aside their ill feelings and be parents to the girl. She also suggested in the letters they work out the custody issue with Ms. Lewis’ psychologist.
The judge also said Ms. Rowan manipulated Ms. Lewis into contributing substantial money toward a home, then convinced her to pull her name from the property without removing her name from the mortgage. He also said she used a subsequent girlfriend to get her mortgage up-to-date and avoid foreclosure, then broke up with that woman too.
As further evidence of Ms. Rowan’s manipulation, St. John accused her of using Jeremy Archer to get pregnant and then immediately evicting him from her home.
Archer, who is Ms. Lewis’ nephew, is serving a life sentence for the 2005 slaying of Kristen Truchan of Shenango Township. He was convicted after the girl was born and has had no part in raising her.
The custody battle dragged on, in part, because Pennsylvania does not provide for gay marriage or civil unions and therefore, has no guidelines for custody and visitation if the relationship dissolves.
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Audrey Buglione is a family law attorney and single mom who lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with her three children. Her office is located in Dauphin County. She assists clients seeking divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support and alimony pendente lite in Dauphin, Cumberland, Lancaster, York, Perry, and Lebanon counties. Contact a Audrey Buglione for a no-obligation confidential consultation.