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HELENE E. HUTCHISON v. ROBERT D. HUTCHISON (10/31/80)

decided: October 31, 1980.

HELENE E. HUTCHISON, APPELLANT,
v.
ROBERT D. HUTCHISON, APPELLEE



No. 80-1-66, Appeal from Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Sitting at Pittsburgh, at No. 793 April Term 1978, entered January 4, 1980, affirming the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Family Division, entered March 16, 1978, at No. D 1834 of 1973. Allowance of appeal granted on March 18, 1980, at No. 32 W.D. Misc. Docket 1980.

COUNSEL

Gerald A. Kukitz, M. A. Nernberg & Laffey, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Stewart B. Barmen, Susan Foreman Jordan, Rothman, Gordon, Foreman & Groudine, P.A., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ.

Author: Larsen

[ 492 Pa. Page 120]

OPINION

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County opening a judgment against appellee Robert D. Hutchison. The judgment was entered for arrearages accumulated under an order against appellee for the support of appellant Helene E. Hutchison and the couple's two children. The protracted litigation and events which brought the case to this Court are as follows:

Appellant and appellee were married in 1956 and two children were born of the marriage. In September of 1972, appellee husband took a leave of absence from Westinghouse Electric Corporation, where he was employed as an engineer, and left his residence and domicile in Pennsylvania. He travelled to Clark County, Nevada, where he took up residence in a hotel/motel. After being there for three months and two days, he obtained a decree of divorce from the Eighth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada. This divorce decree required appellee to pay appellant child support in the amount of $200.00 per month.

Approximately two weeks later, appellee returned to Pennsylvania and his employment at Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Shortly thereafter, on January 15, 1973, appellee entered into a written separation agreement with appellant. This agreement, in contradiction of appellee's recently-obtained Nevada decree of divorce, referred to appellee and appellant as husband and wife and described appellee as being of Washington County, Pennsylvania. It provided in pertinent part: that the two could thereafter live separate

[ 492 Pa. Page 121]

    and apart; that appellee was to pay appellant $250.00 per month in child support; that appellee was to pay to appellant within 90 days the sum of $10,000.00 in full settlement of her marital rights and, failing the same, that the entire agreement was to become null and void; and that the agreement did not prevent either party from obtaining a decree of divorce.

On April 10, 1973, appellant commenced an action in divorce against appellee in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County and, in conjunction with this action, petitioned for alimony pendente lite, counsel fees, and expenses.*fn1 Appellee raised the January 15th agreement as a defense. Although the $10,000.00 had not (and still has not) been paid, the court found for appellee and dismissed the petition, ordering appellant to comply with the agreement. Appellant appealed this order to the Superior Court, which affirmed per curiam on January 1, 1974.*fn2

During the pendency of that appeal, on July 11, 1973, appellant commenced a support action against appellee in Allegheny County, where appellee was then residing. The action sought support for both appellant and the couple's two children. Appellee was personally served ...


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