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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SHAFFER v. SHAFFER. (COMMONWEALTH V. SHAFFER.) (03/16/54)

March 16, 1954

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SHAFFER
v.
SHAFFER. (COMMONWEALTH V. SHAFFER.)



COUNSEL

Robert H. Maurer, Asst. Dep. Atty. Gen., Frank F. Truscott, Atty. Gen., M. Jack Morgan, Dist. Atty., Lehigh County, Allentown, for appellant.

Isadore Rapoport, Allentown, for appellee.

Richard W. Ervin, Atty. Gen., J. Ernest Webb, Asst. Atty. Gen., for State of Florida, Amicus Curiae.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Ross, and Wright, JJ.

Author: Hirt

[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 102]

HIRT, Judge.

This proceeding originated in the petition of Frances J. Shaffer, wife of respondent, addressed to the Circuit Court of the Fifteenth Judicial District of the State of Florida. In her petition under the Uniform Support of Dependents Law of that State, Chapter 27996, 1953, F.S.A. § 88.01 et seq., she sought to compel her husband to support her. She alleged that he had abandoned her in Florida and was then domiciled in Lehigh County,

[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 103]

Pennsylvania where he owned property. On a return of the sheriff of the county of petitioner's residence that respondent could not be found for the service of process, the Florida Circuit Court transmitted the proceeding to the Court of Quarter Sessions of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, for disposition under the Uniform Enforcement of Support Law of this State, the Act of May 10, 1951, P.L. 279, 62 P.S. § 2043.1 et seq. On the certification of the proceeding to the quarter sessions in Lehigh County the court directed that an attachment issue and when respondent was taken into custody he gave bail for his appearance. Prior to the date fixed for hearing respondent filed a petition under the Act of March 5, 1925, P.L. 23, 12 P.S. § 672, challenging the jurisdiction of the court. The grounds for the claim of lack of jurisdiction are (1) reciprocal operation of the Pennsylvania law cannot be invoked because it is not substantially similar to the law of Florida: (2) there is no authority in either the Florida or the Pennsylvania law for the arrest of respondent on a bench warrant; (3) the Pennsylvania Law is unconstitutional in that it contains no provision for confrontation of accusing witnesses including his wife.

Under our Uniform Enforcement of Support Law the duties of support which are enforceable are those imposed by any 'state * * * in which this or a substantially similar reciprocal law has been enacted': 62 P.S. § 2043.2. The Pennsylvania Act in §§ 5 and 6, 62 P.S. § 2043.5 and § 2043.6, provides: 'The Governor of this State (1) may demand from the governor of any other state, the surrender of any person found in such other state who is charged in this State with the crime of failing to provide for the support of any person in this State; and, (2) may surrender, on demand by the governor of any other state, any person found in this State who is charged in such other state with the crime

[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 104]

    of failing to provide for the support of a person in such other state.' (Italics supplied.) The Florida Uniform Support Law, supra, does not contain a provision for interstate rendition. Moreover our Act in scope applies to all duties of support whereas the Florida Law relates to the support only of wife and children. For want of reciprocal provision in these respects the lower court concluded that there was lack of substantial similarity in the statutes of the two states and on that ground dismissed the petition and discharged the respondent for want of jurisdiction. In so doing the court did not find it necessary to decide the other questions raised by respondent. The order will be reversed.

The problem of enforcing duties of support at best has always been difficult enough and in general an errant husband could avoid the enforcement of his responsibility to support his dependents by the simple expedient of crossing state lines. To meet the problem thus presented two distinct types of statutes were enacted, each of which contemplates a uniform two-state reciprocal procedure for the enforcement of the duty of support. These are the Uniform Support of Dependents Act and the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act. In an effort to create an effective civil remedy to compel support of an abandoned wife and children by an absconding husband-father found in another state the Uniform Support of Dependents Act was originally enacted by the State of New York an April 25, 1949. McKinney's Unconsolidated Laws of New York, § 2111. Cf. Maxim v. Maxim, 203 Misc. 610, 118 N.Y.S.2d 541. ...


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