No. 784, OCTOBER TERM, 1979, CIVIL ACTION--APPEAL FROM ORDER OF THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS, FAMILY DIVISION, DOMESTIC RELATIONS BRANCH, PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, DATED MARCH 22, 1979 at No. D.R. 275636, Support
Stanley M. Poplow, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Joseph P. Cronin, Jr., Milmont Park, did not file a brief on behalf of appellee.
Spaeth, Cavanaugh and O'Kicki, JJ.*fn* Cavanaugh, J., concurs in the result and joins in the concurring statement of Spaeth, J.
[ 292 Pa. Super. Page 95]
The issue in this case is whether or not the Family Division of the Common Pleas Court has jurisdiction to enforce a private agreement of support that has been entered into record by mutual consent of the parties at a prior court hearing on the matter.
The Trial Court entered a Consent Order on April 24, 1974, encompassing the parties' private agreement which had set forth their respective obligations of custody and support of a son, distribution of property, and other marital matters.
Again on March 22, 1979, another Order was entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Family Division, which directed Richard A. Durso (Father/Appellant) to pay the sum of $454.20 to Anne M. Durso (Mother/Appellee) for certain expenses of Richard A. Durson (son). The Trial Court's Order was predicated on an Agreement made on February 25, 1970. This present matter arises out of the hearing which was held on mother's Petition for Support, filed February 26, 1979 in which she alleged that Appellant had failed to comply with the terms of the aforesaid Agreement, and she sought compliance.
[ 292 Pa. Super. Page 96]
As the Trial Court aptly noted in the first paragraph of its opinion, an actual support order was entered in this case pursuant to an Agreement between Appellee and Appellant. It is abundantly clear from a reading of the Trial Court's Opinion that it treated this matter as being an action on a court order rather than a support agreement.
Had the Trial Court used the Civil Procedure Support law as a remedy to collect payments due under a Separation Agreement executed pursuant to a divorce, it would have been improper. Commonwealth ex rel. Jones v. Jones, 216 Pa. Super. 1, 260 A.2d 809 (1969). However, the case at bar goes beyond a mere Agreement, as is evidenced by the language of her Petition, Appellee was indeed asking that Appellant comply with the terms of their previous Agreement, embodied in a prior court order.
"Defendant has failed to comply with terms of the Agreement which was entered as an Order of this Court on February 26, 1974. Petitioner seeks a Court Order for the defendant's compliance with the terms of the Agreement as set forth on the Court Order."
We do agree with the above stated purpose of the Legislature. However, consideration should be given also to the policy by which the Act was conceived. As Jones, id, further states "the object of all interpretation and construction of laws is to ascertain and effectuate the intention of the Legislature (citations omitted)" p. 810. The policy and purpose from which the Act arises is that of providing the amount of support needed for the maintenance of dependents. When these types of agreements are entered into by the legally obligated parties, even if not formally filed or court ordered, where else but in the Family Division of the court should they be challenged and enforced or dismissed? The function of this Division of the court system is precisely that -- to deal with family, support and custody matters. Accordingly, we extend the dicta of Jones to include not only ...