NO. 2499 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Order of July 28, 1982, In the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Civil, No. 81-179813.
Jack M. Bernard, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Albert Momjian, Philadelphia, for appellee.
McEwen, Johnson and Hester, JJ.
[ 327 Pa. Super. Page 121]
We here study an appeal from an order in a divorce proceeding which awarded to appellee the sums of $10,000 for interim counsel fees and $2,500 for the payment of
[ 327 Pa. Super. Page 122]
"costs".*fn1 Appellant argues that: (1) the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas was without jurisdiction to award interim counsel fees and expenses to appellee as no valid marriage existed between the parties; (2) the court erred in awarding counsel fees to appellee as counsel for appellee did not attempt to amicably resolve the matter, reconcile the parties or "preserve the family unit"; (3) the amount awarded for interim counsel fees was excessive; (4) the court erred in awarding a sum for interim expenses not yet incurred; and (5) counsel for appellee failed to adequately document the charges in their bill. We find that the learned Judge Anita B. Brody properly awarded appellee the sums of $10,000 as interim counsel fees and $2,500.00 as interim expenses.
Appellee filed a complaint in divorce on September 28, 1981, pursuant to the Divorce Code of 1980*fn2 alleging that her husband, the appellant herein, offered such indignities to her as to render her condition intolerable and her life burdensome.*fn3 Appellee also sought a no-fault divorce pursuant to Sections 201(c)*fn4 and 201(d)*fn5 of the Divorce Code, reasonable child support, alimony, alimony pendente lite, counsel fees, equitable distribution of the marital property and payment of costs and expenses.
Thereafter, on February 16, 1982, appellee filed a petition for interim counsel fees, expenses and appraiser's fees. After a hearing on the petition, Judge Brody issued an order awarding $10,000.00 for interim counsel fees and $2,500.00 for interim expenses. Appellant undertook the present appeal after his exceptions were dismissed by the court.
[ 327 Pa. Super. Page 123]
Initially, we observe that the appeal from the order awarding interim counsel fees and expenses is properly before us for review. This Court, sitting en banc, has recently held that an order granting or denying interim counsel fees and expenses is a final, appealable order. See Sutliff v. Sutliff, 326 Pa. Super. 496, 474 A.2d 599 (1984). We are, therefore, possessed of jurisdiction to entertain the instant appeal.
Appellant initially argues that the hearing court had no authority to award interim counsel fees and expenses since, allegedly, no valid marriage ever existed between the parties. This Court, however, has recently held that jurisdiction over this divorce action properly lies in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. See Lowenschuss v. Selnick, 324 Pa. Super. 193, 471 A.2d 529 (1984).*fn6 As such, the trial court was within its ...