No. 240 Harrisburg, 1980, No. 157 Harrisburg, 1981, No. 160 Harrisburg, 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Action-Law, Dauphin County, No. No. 1317 SD 1976, and No. 3469 S 1980
Luther E. Milspaw and Marvin Beshore, Harrisburg, for appellant (at Nos. 240 and 157) and for appellee (at No. 160).
Bonnie D. Menaker, Harrisburg, for appellant (at No. 160) and for appellee (at Nos. 240 and 157).
Brosky, Wieand and Montemuro, JJ. Wieand, J., concurs in the result.
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 398]
The present appeal is a consolidation of two actions brought in the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County,
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 399]
on related issues of support and divorce. No. 240 Harrisburg, 1980 was an appeal from a support order entered November 28, 1980; Nos. 157, 160 Harrisburg, 1981 is an appeal from a divorce order entered April 22, 1981.
As to the support issue, it appears that appellee's objection to jurisdiction must prevail. The support order was entered on November 28, 1980 at a time when 62 P.S. § 2043.35(f) and Pa.R.C.P. 1038(d) set forth the procedural requirements in excepting to and appealing from such an order.
A panel of this court in Paul v. Paul, 281 Pa. Super. 202, 421 A.2d 1219 (1980), stated that "exceptions to an order for support must be filed in order to preserve objections for appeal." Id. at 208.
The Rules were thereafter changed to provide that exceptions are not a prerequisite to preservation of objections on appeal, Pa.R.C.P. 1910.11(k). That provision, however, was not valid at the time this appeal was taken. Therefore, we must quash the appeal at No. 240 of 1980.
We next consider the issues presented upon appeal from the holding of the court below in the matters of divorce, alimony pendente lite and alimony.
The parties lived together for two years prior to their marriage in February of 1973. Appellant-husband had a bachelor's degree in political science before they met and was employed as a social worker in Harrisburg during the first two years of the liaison. The appellee-wife worked in a day-care center and had completed one semester of college before the marriage.
Appellant was accepted into Antioch Law School in Falls Church, Virginia. He began his first year in the fall of 1973, simultaneously with the birth of the daughter of the marriage, Lee Saara.
The parties were supported through the law school years in large part by the appellee's income from daycare of young children, but also from the contributions of relatives and federal programs.
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 400]
One week after the appellant's graduation from law school, he delivered appellee and their child to the appellee's parents' home and moved into the home of another woman.
By August of 1976, appellant was employed as a law clerk with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
In November of 1976, the parties signed a Separation Agreement. What little property they had was divided, and custody of Saara was given to the appellee. The only matters contained in this Agreement which are now relevant to this appeal surround the provisions affecting support and alimony. A related argument of the appellant concerns a letter written by appellee's counsel before the Agreement was executed and disregarded by the Master and the lower court under the parol evidence rule.
The Master's recommendation to the court awarded alimony pendente lite to the appellee in the amount of $100 per week, alimony of $50 per week until completion of the appellee's graduate program or December 31, 1982, whichever was earlier, and all counsel fees involved in the divorce and support matters. Appellant excepted to the Master's Report. The matter was argued before the court and following argument the court entered an order affirming the awards of alimony and alimony pendente lite as recommended by the Master, but allowing only half of the recommended fee for attorney's services rendered by counsel for appellee. Both parties appealed from that order.*fn1 We affirm the lower court for the reasons which follow.
The Separation Agreement written in 1976 was drafted in a different era of the divorce law of this Commonwealth. Under former law, appellant's chances of winning a contested divorce action were very slim indeed. Claims for support of appellee were unavoidable so long as the legal marriage bonds endured, and appellant's hope of eventual divorce and release from long-term spousal support payments depended upon appellee's cooperation.
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 401]
It was in that context that appellant agreed to pay $100 per week for the support of appellee and their child, a sum which could be increased, in accordance with the terms of the Agreement, "up to 2/3 of husband's net income", and which was subject to yearly review for cost-of-living increases. We note that appellee never sought any increase prior to appellant's unilateral decision to decrease support, although inflation between 1976 and 1980 greatly affected the buying power of that $100 per week.
For the next few years appellee sought her college degree and appellant continued in his job with the Department of Revenue. Appellant's new household with his paramour increased by two more children. Appellant faithfully ...