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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. GOICHMAN v. GOICHMAN (09/19/73)

decided: September 19, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. GOICHMAN
v.
GOICHMAN, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Nov. T., 1969, No. 841, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Beverly Goichman v. William A. Goichman.

COUNSEL

Michael J. Pepe, Jr., with him William A. Goichman, in propria persona, for appellant.

Martin J. Cunningham, Jr., with him Henderson, Wetherill, O'Hey & Horsey, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Spaulding, J.

Author: Spaulding

[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 313]

Appellant William Goichman appeals from an order of Judge John R. Henry of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County directing him to pay $325 a week for the support of his three children.

Appellant, a Philadelphia attorney, and his wife have been separated for four years. Their children are presently 11, 13 and 15 years of age, and reside with the mother in the family home in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. In the year of their separation, appellant was ordered to pay $425 per week support to his wife and children, an order affirmed by this Court on appeal. Commonwealth ex rel. Goichman v. Goichman, 219 Pa. Superior Ct. 367, 281 A.2d 333 (1971). In December, 1971, appellant petitioned for a reduction of that order, and, a month later, petitioned for revocation of support for his wife. After a hearing, the court below terminated the original $425 order and entered the $325 weekly support order for the children only, which is the subject of this appeal.

Our review of support orders is limited to a determination of whether there is evidence to sustain the order of the hearing judge. We will reverse such orders only if there has been an abuse of discretion. We must sustain such awards if they can be shown to rest on any valid ground. Commonwealth ex rel. Heineman v. Heineman, 185 Pa. Superior Ct. 32, 137 A.2d 349 (1958); Commonwealth ex rel. Fishman v. Fishman, 213 Pa. Superior Ct. 342, 247 A.2d 810 (1968). However, support orders are not to be confiscatory or punitive of the father or husband, and the father is to be left with a reasonable allowance for his own living expenses. Commonwealth ex rel. Haimowitz v. Haimowitz, 221 Pa. Superior Ct. 364, 292 A.2d 502 (1972).

[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 314]

Initially, we consider the hearing judge's finding as to the needs of the Goichman children: "The family had a high standard of living prior to Respondent's leaving the marital domicile in 1970; and has continued to live in a comfortable manner since then. This was made possible by Respondent's great financial success. . . .

"The expenses of the children, as testified to by Petitioner, exceed Seventeen Thousand Dollars ($17,000.00) per year. This amount was arrived at by prorating the expenses of the family for common items (i.e., real estate taxes) and adding to this the expenses of the children. Although the amount expended to raise these three children appeared to be considerable, it was substantiated by Petitioner. It must be remembered that it was Respondent who acclimated them to this standard of living and it is to this standard that Respondent must be held if he is so able."

The lower court's finding of $17,000 of need was predicated on Mrs. Goichman's presentation of a list of her total 1971 expenditures, prorated for the children's share. Appellant had introduced a breakdown of Mrs. Goichman's checking account for a one-year period purporting to show that the amount spent on the children was only slightly in excess of $5,000.*fn1 We will not interfere with the finding of the court below on this point, particularly as it reflects a mere extension of the family's pre-separation lifestyle, to which appellant had acclimated them. See Commonwealth ex rel. Gitman v. Gitman, 428 Pa. 387, 237 A.2d 181 (1967).

As to the family's financial condition, the court below further found that while Mrs. Goichman had been employed ...


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