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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. KATHIE D. SHOEMAKER v. BARRY N. COULSON (09/18/84)

submitted: September 18, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. KATHIE D. SHOEMAKER
v.
BARRY N. COULSON, APPELLANT



No. 00356 HARRISBURG, 1983, Appeal from an Order Entered August 19, 1983, in the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Cumberland County, No. 828 Support, 1978.

COUNSEL

George F. Douglas, Jr., Carlisle, for appellant.

Michael R. Rundle, Carlisle, for appellee.

Wickersham, Watkins and Hester, JJ.

Author: Hester

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 628]

The issue presented for our review herein is whether the entry and satisfaction of a judgment in lieu of child support precludes future support actions on behalf of the child. We hold that it does not and affirm the Order of the court below permitting the continuance of the instant support action against appellant.

Appellant is the father of Diana Lea, born to appellee on November 12, 1977. The parties were never married. In 1979, appellee instituted an action for support of her child, and therein alleged the paternity of appellant. A directed verdict and lump sum settlement of $4,800.00 were negotiated by counsel for the parties. In February of 1983, appellee filed the current action for support for her daughter.*fn1 Appellant sought a declaratory judgment as to whether appellee was precluded from commanding child support following the entry and satisfaction of the monetary settlement. The lower court, following a hearing on the matter,

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 629]

    held that appellee was not estopped from maintaining her support action. This appeal ensued.

Appellant argues that the satisfaction of a judgment forever discharges that judgment, and that his payment of the lump sum settlement must likewise forever release him from his future obligation of child support. Appellant relies upon Commonwealth v. Cameron, 197 Pa. Super. 403, 406, 179 A.2d 270 (1962), wherein we observed:

     where an agreement is made under which one parent agrees to release the other from the duty of support, the bargain will be enforced so long as it is fair and reasonable, made without fraud and coercion, and without prejudice to the welfare of the child.

Averring that the execution of the satisfied judgment comported with the above-cited language, appellant urges us to enforce the settlement as a final judgment in this matter.

This Commonwealth has always attributed the utmost importance to the duty and responsibility of parents to financially support their children to the extent of their resources. Although a parent's circumstances may vary, the obligation of child support is an unwavering one. As such, this Court has repeatedly held that one parent cannot contract away the right of his or her child to seek adequate support from the other parent. Oman v. Oman, 333 Pa. Super. 356, , 482 A.2d 606, 608 (1984), quoting Brown v. Hall, 495 Pa. Super. 635, 643 n. 11, 435 A.2d 859, 863 n. 11 (1981); Mallinger v. Mallinger, 197 Pa. Super. 34, 175 A.2d 890 (1961). In fact, we once observed that "agreements or disputes are almost irrelevant ...


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