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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA EX REL. STEPHANIE STICKLEY VONA v. ROBERT STICKLEY (05/22/81)

filed: May 22, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA EX REL. STEPHANIE STICKLEY VONA
v.
ROBERT STICKLEY, APPELLANT



No. 675 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order, entered March 11, 1980, of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Action-Law, of Chester County at No. 536 N of 1977, Non-Support.

COUNSEL

Eric S. Coates, Oxford, for appellant.

Thomas G. Gavin, West Chester, submitted a brief on behalf of appellee.

Wickersham, Popovich and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 287 Pa. Super. Page 297]

This is a child support case. Appellant, the father, and appellee, the mother, were divorced in March, 1978, and are the parents of two minor children. On February 14, 1978, the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County entered an order requiring appellant to pay eighty dollars ($80.00) per week plus ten dollars ($10.00) per week in arrearages to appellee for child support. Approximately one year later, appellee filed a petition to increase child support from eighty dollars ($80.00) per week to $125.00 per week. Appellant then filed a cross-petition to reduce support. A hearing

[ 287 Pa. Super. Page 298]

    was held, and both petitions were denied in separate orders. This appeal by appellant followed. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand the matter to the trial court.

In this case, certain facts are undisputed. Appellee began working full-time after the entry of the 1978 support order.*fn1 In 1978, appellee earned $160.00 per week, and appellant earned twice as much, approximately $320.00 per week.

Appellant contends that the trial court's order dismissing his modification petition was erroneous because the trial court failed to articulate in its opinion the full-time employment of appellee. According to appellant, this factor, if considered, would have resulted in a reduction of the child support order. However, we are unable to render a considered opinion on this appeal because we cannot ascertain if the trial court considered the evidence presented on "what, if any, contribution the mother [was] in a position to provide." Conway v. Dana, 456 Pa. 536, 539, 318 A.2d 324, 326 (1974). Since Conway v. Dana, supra, the law in Pennsylvania recognizes that:

"Support, as every other duty encompassed in the role of parenthood, is the equal responsibility of both mother and father. Both must be required to discharge the obligation in accordance with their capacity and ability. Thus, when we consider the order to be assessed against the father, we must not only consider his property, income and earning capacity but also what, if any, contribution the mother is in a position to provide." Id. (emphasis supplied)

Furthermore, we recognize that:

"'Each parent's ability to pay is dependent upon his or her property, income and earning capacity, Conway v. Dana, supra [456 Pa.] at 540, 318 A.2d at 326, and is to be determined as of the time at which support payments are sought, Lindenfelser v. Lindenfelser, 396 Pa. 530, ...


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