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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. BRANCH v. BRANCH (11/15/51)

November 15, 1951

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. BRANCH
v.
BRANCH



COUNSEL

David Freeman, Claude O. Lanciano, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert C. Duffy, Jack C. Briscoe, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross, and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Hirt

[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 46]

HIRT, Judge.

The parties, residents and citizens of Pennsylvania, were married on January 27, 1927. Defendant is the beneficiary of a trust in the estate of his father by the terms of which the Corn Exchange National Bank and Trust Company of Philadelphia, as trustee, was directed

[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 47]

    to pay him $100 per month during the term of ten years from February 14, 1948. Pursuant to a written agreement entered into by the parties on May 14, 1948, the lower court ordered the defendant to pay his wife $15 weekly for her support. He has defaulted in all payments on the support order since January 1949. Defendant, shortly before the date of the support agreement, had been unsuccessful in securing a decree of divorce from relatrix in an action brought by him in the common pleas of Philadelphia. In November, 1950, on affidavit of relatrix that defendant had separated himself from her without cause and had left for Florida without providing for her maintenance, the lower court issued its warrant of seizure under Section 7 of the Act of June 24, 1937, P.L. 2045, 62 P.S. § 1977, attaching so much of defendant's interest in the trust fund as may be reasonable for her maintenance.

The Corn Exchange Bank admitting the trust, in its answer to the warrant of seizure averred on information that defendant was a resident of Fort Myers, Florida, and that he had been divorced from his wife as of June 19, 1950, by final decree in a proceeding brought by him in the Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, in and for Volusia County, Florida, in Chancery.

Defendant on petition was permitted to intervene in the attachment proceeding and after hearing, the lower court confirmed the warrant of seizure and dismissed defendant's petition to vacate the support order and remit the payments in arrears. Hence this appeal by the defendant. Whether the attachment was valid, permitting the relatrix to look to the trust fund for her present and future support, will ultimately depend on the validity of the Florida divorce decree.

Under the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution a divorce decree entered by a state

[ 170 Pa. Super. Page 48]

    court must be respected in all other states as prima facie valid. But the validity of a divorce decree entered by a court of another state may be attacked collaterally and impeached for want of jurisdiction of either the subject-matter or the person of the adverse party to the proceeding. Williams v. State of North Carolina, 325 U.S. 226, 65 S.Ct. 1092, 89 L.Ed. 1577. The cases have been collected and the principles ...


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