Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 14364 of 1964, in case of Katherine Silvestri v. Stephen Slatowski.
Peter J. Smith, for appellant.
No argument was made nor brief submitted for appellee.
Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Justice Roberts concurs in the result. Mr. Justice Cohen is of the opinion that the appeal should be certified to the Superior Court. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Musmanno joins in this dissenting opinion.
The parties to this action, Katherine Silvestri and Stephen Slatowski, were married in Pennsylvania on April 9, 1955. In November 1963, the husband instituted an action for divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The wife, a resident of Pennsylvania, voluntarily entered an appearance in the action and submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the court.
In February 1964, the parties executed a written agreement, entitled "Property Settlement and Stipulation." The wife signed the contract in Pennsylvania, the husband in Virginia. Therein, the husband agreed, inter alia, to pay his wife, until she died or remarried, a stated sum each week for her support and maintenance.
In April 1964, the Virginia court entered a final decree in divorce a vinculo matrimonii in favor of the
husband with the property settlement being "ratified, confirmed and made part of [the] decree."
In December 1964,*fn1 the wife filed a complaint in assumpsit in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, alleging default in payments due under the property settlement contract and seeking payment, not only of arrearages due, but relief in the form of an order that would insure future compliance.
After an answer was filed, the parties entered into a stipulation transferring the case to the equity side of the court. It was further agreed that, after hearing, if the chancellor decided equity lacked jurisdiction, he could retransfer the action to the law side of the court and enter a decision as if it were heard in that court before a judge sitting without a jury.
The issue came on for hearing. The facts were stipulated of record. Subsequently, the chancellor, concluding that equity lacked jurisdiction, entered an order directing that the case be transferred to the law side of the court. On the same day, he entered an adjudication on the law side of the court in the form of a decree nisi, awarding the wife a verdict for the money due and unpaid under the contract up to the time of hearing. ...