No. 2536 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal, of Montgomery County at No. 2027-76.
Lawrence H. Rudnick, Willow Grove, for appellant.
Cercone, P. J., and Spaeth and Cavanaugh, JJ.
[ 297 Pa. Super. Page 11]
On May 24, 1976, an agreed order was entered whereby appellant, Charles E. Matthews, agreed to pay $10 per week for the support of his illegitimate son, Charles E. Turner. On April 6, 1977, appellee, Rose Mary Turner, the mother of said child, petitioned the lower court to increase the support and, on May 3, 1977, the order was amended to provide for a payment of $22.50 per week for the support of Charles. Appellant, on May 9, 1980, filed a pro se petition to modify the May 3, 1977, order which alleged that he was unable to comply therewith because he was on public assistance and could not obtain employment. After a hearing on September 4, 1980, the lower court denied appellant's petition and this appeal followed. For the following reasons, we vacate the order and remand for further proceedings.
The scope of review in a support case is a narrow one. Absent a clear abuse of discretion, we will defer to the order
[ 297 Pa. Super. Page 12]
of the lower court assuming that the court, in making its findings and conclusions, follows proper procedures and applies the relevant legal principles. Banks v. Banks, 275 Pa. Super. 439, 445, 418 A.2d 1370, 1373 (1980); Weiser v. Weiser, 238 Pa. Super. 488, 362 A.2d 287 (1976). Here, the records discloses that the lower court misapplied the law.
In Conway v. Dana, 456 Pa. 536, 540, 318 A.2d 324, 326 (1976), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made clear that the responsibilities of supporting a child inure not just to the father but rather to both parents:
We can best provide for the support of minors by avoiding artificial division of the panoply of parental responsibilities and looking to the capacity of the parties involved. 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.
Accord, Ford v. Fitzgerald, 282 Pa. Super. 25, 422 A.2d 657 (1980); Berry v. Berry, 278 Pa. Super. 30, 419 A.2d 1340 (1980); Commonwealth ex rel. Cragle v. Cragle, 277 Pa. Super. 349, 419 A.2d 1179 (1980); Straub v. Tyahle, 274 Pa. Super. 411, 418 A.2d 472 (1980); Commonwealth ex rel. Mainzer v. Audi, 266 Pa. Super. 122, 403 A.2d 124 (1979); Commonwealth ex rel. Lyle v. Lyle, 248 Pa. Super. 458, 375 A.2d 187 (1977). Because the purpose of an order of support is the welfare of the children and not punishment of the parent, the award must be fair and not confiscatory. See Dugery v. Dugery, 276 Pa. Super. 51, 54, 419 A.2d 90, 91 (1980). The determination of what is fair must, of necessity, include an evaluation of the financial abilities of both parents to support the child. Conway v. Dana, supra.
In the instant case, the lower court gave no consideration to the circumstances of appellee in determining the amount of support required from appellant. Appellant supplied the lone ...