No. 736 Pittsburgh, 1983, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, October Term, 1980, No. 10.
Sanford A. Middleman, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Eric Rome, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Rowley, Tamilia and Hester, JJ.
[ 338 Pa. Super. Page 205]
This is a direct appeal from the trial court's Order of May 20, 1983, modifying a previous Order of January 10, 1983, and dismissing the parties' exceptions thereto. Appellant, Dr. Robert Baraff, alleges, inter alia, that the trial court erred in distributing the marital property of the parties, refusing to reduce his support obligation and directing him to pay certain counsel fees and costs. We have thoroughly reviewed the record in this case and we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court's determination regarding the marital property distribution or the award of counsel fees
[ 338 Pa. Super. Page 206]
and costs. Accordingly, we affirm that portion of the court's Order. However, we find that this appeal must be quashed with respect to the claims involving support arrearages and appellant's continuing support obligation.
Mrs. Baraff instituted a support action against Dr. Baraff in 1979, seeking support payments for herself and the parties' three children. (Allegheny County Common Pleas, No. 110, April Term, 1979) By order dated December 17, 1979 (per Judge William Colbert), Dr. Baraff was directed to pay support in the amount of $1,600.00 per month for his wife and $2,400.00 per month for the children. He was further ordered to pay private school tuition for the children and to provide medical coverage for his wife and children.*fn1
Mrs. Baraff filed a Divorce Complaint on July 1, 1980, pursuant to the Divorce Code of 1980. 23 P.S. §§ 101-801. Her complaint, in addition to seeking a divorce, requested equitable distribution of the parties' marital property, alimony and counsel fees. On August 27, 1980, the divorce proceeding was designated complex by the trial court upon petition of Mrs. Baraff, and discovery was allowed. The progress of this case through discovery to trial was repeatedly impeded by Dr. Baraff's refusal to cooperate and his failure to supply vital information regarding his financial assets to his wife's attorneys and the court. In addition, Dr. Baraff failed to appear at a deposition scheduled for January 22, 1981, and he refused to answer questions or produce documents at a subsequent deposition on March 16, 1981. His actions resulted in the imposition of sanctions by the court whereby he was precluded from producing evidence at any hearing regarding equitable distribution and counsel fees.
On August 4, 1982, a Petition for Reduction of the December 17, 1979 order of support was filed by Dr. Baraff, representing himself. On October 14, 1982, Dr. Baraff again filed a Petition for Reduction of the support
[ 338 Pa. Super. Page 207]
order. Although Dr. Baraff's petitions were filed at the docket number assigned to the divorce proceeding, Dr. Baraff was, in fact, requesting a reduction of the previous support order of December 17, 1979, directing him to make total support payments of $4,000.00 to his wife and children. The support action was actually a separate and distinct proceeding. Dr. Baraff's petitions alleged that there had been a change in circumstances since the support order had been entered; namely, that he had suffered medical problems and his physician had advised him to work fewer hours. Thus, he quit the private practice of neurology resulting in a drastic reduction of income. Again, Dr. Baraff repeatedly failed to ...