No. 793 April Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Family Division, at No. D-1834 of 1973.
Brian H. Baxter, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Stewart B. Barmen, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Cercone, President Judge, and Wieand and Hoffman, JJ. Hoffman, J., files a dissenting opinion.
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 177]
Helene E. Hutchison appeals from an order which opened two judgments entered for arrearages accumulated under an order entered against Robert D. Hutchison for the support of two children. We affirm.
The parties were married on December 8, 1956 and divorced by a Nevada decree entered on December 19, 1972. Subsequently, they entered a property settlement agreement which required, inter alia, that appellee pay monthly the sum of $250.00 for the support of two children born of the marriage. In an action instituted by appellant in Washington County, the Court of Common Pleas there entered an order on June 7, 1973 which required appellant to comply with the agreement of January 15, 1973. This Court affirmed the order per curiam on January 3, 1974. Hutchison v. Hutchison, 228 Pa. Super. 793, 315 A.2d 283 (1974).
Meanwhile, on July 11, 1973, appellant caused an action for the support of the children to be instituted in Allegheny County. That Court, on August 21, 1973, entered an ex parte order directing appellee to pay support for his two children at the rate of $500.00 per month. On August 28, 1973, however, the Court granted appellee's petition to vacate the order and scheduled a "rehearing" for September 5, 1973. On his petition, appellee specifically referred to the order which had been entered in Washington County and the appeal which was then pending in the Superior Court. On August 31, 1973, the rehearing was continued "until such time as is mutually convenient for the above captioned parties".
On September 14, 1973, appellee moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he has continued to reside until the present time. On November 21, 1973, after appellee had left the state of Pennsylvania and before determination of the appeal from the Washington County order, appellant was able to obtain from the Family Court in Allegheny County another ex parte order which retroactively reinstated the earlier order directing appellee to pay the sum of $500.00 per month. The order of November 21, 1973 was entered without
[ 274 Pa. Super. Page 178]
notice to appellee. He has also alleged that he failed to receive notice of the order after it had been entered. Meanwhile, he continued to pay $250.00 per month as required by the Washington County order.
On February 9, 1976, appellant filed in Allegheny County a petition for rule to show cause why judgment should not be entered against appellee for arrearages which had accumulated under that Court's order. Appellee's counsel of record was permitted to withdraw his appearance after he told the Court that he did not have appellee's address and had not represented appellee for two years. Appellant was directed by the Court to effect service on appellee, but appellant did no more than send a copy of the petition and rule to appellee's last address in Pennsylvania where she knew appellee had not lived for more than two years. Nevertheless, on March 22, 1976, the Allegheny County Court entered judgment against appellee for $15,500.00. Notice of this order was not given to appellee until November 8, 1976, when appellant's counsel sent a form letter demanding payment of the judgment in full within ten days. The letter was sent to appellee at his correct address in Nevada. However, it did not recite the basis for the judgment. When appellee did not respond, appellant commenced an action in Nevada to enforce her Pennsylvania judgment. A complaint was served on appellee in Nevada on February 23, 1977. He immediately employed counsel who took steps to resist appellant's claim. Nevertheless, on August 10, 1977, the Nevada Court gave full faith and credit to the Pennsylvania judgment and declined to review the circumstances which had produced it. Thereupon, appellee took leave from his employment and returned to ...