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BARRETT v. BARRETT (12/11/75)

decided: December 11, 1975.

BARRETT
v.
BARRETT, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH V. BARRETT, APPELLANT



Appeals from orders of Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, No. 529 of 1970, and May T., 1965, No. 217, in cases of Lois Harriett Barrett v. Merle Edmund Barrett, and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Merle Edmund Barrett.

COUNSEL

John B. Leete, with him Timothy P. O'Brien, for appellant, at No. 41 and No. 42.

Frank S. Kelker, Assistant District Attorney, with him Joseph S. Walko, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee, at No. 41.

John D. McBride, for appellee, at No. 42.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Price, J. Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaeth, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Price

[ 237 Pa. Super. Page 591]

Because these appeals involve the same issue, which is whether the sanctions imposed by the lower court following the appellant's adjudications of civil contempt were proper, they were consolidated for purposes of oral argument. The merits of both appeals will be determined in this opinion.

The facts which precipitated the citation for contempt now appealed at No. 42 April Term, 1976 may be summarized

[ 237 Pa. Super. Page 592]

    as follows: On August 5, 1965, appellant's wife, Lois Harriett Barrett, filed a complaint for support under the Civil Procedural Support Law, Act of July 13, 1953, P.L. 431, § 1 (62 P.S. § 2043.31) et seq. The complainant requested support for herself and three minor children. On August 23, 1965, the parties entered into a written agreement whereby appellant agreed, inter alia, to pay $50 per week as support for his wife and children. The agreement was entered as an order of court on the same date. Appellant soon fell into arrears and a wage attachment was issued until the payments were current. By November 9, 1969, appellant again owed arrearages of $7,412.01, and another wage attachment was issued. On January 4, 1970, the court below reduced the order entered in 1965 to $25 per week. As of June 3, 1975, appellant was $16,263.78 in arrears.

The facts related to the appeal filed at No. 41 April Term, 1976 may be summarized as follows: On August 7, 1970, Lois Kookoothakis gave birth to a son who was conceived out of wedlock. On April 22, 1971, appellant pleaded guilty to adultery and bastardy charges filed by the Commonwealth on behalf of Ms. Kookoothakis. On May 12, 1971, he was sentenced to pay the prosecutrix' medical expenses, lying-in costs, and the sum of $10 weekly for child support. As of June 30, 1975, appellant was $2,363.83 in arrears.

The remaining facts found by the lower court are relevant to both appeals. They concern efforts to compel appellant's compliance with the two support orders and appellant's efforts to avoid payment. A detailed discussion of these facts is not necessary in this case. The record reflects that appellant had held several jobs during the period in question. His last employer was the Marriott Motor Inn. Appellant testified that his earnings there were $2.15 per hour and that he worked a ...


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