No. 1073 Philadelphia, 1983, Appeal from the Order Entered on March 29, 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, No. 1129 S, L1982
Blaine J. DeSantis, Reading, for appellant.
James R. Hevalow, Reading, for appellee.
Cirillo, Montemuro and Cercone, JJ.
[ 339 Pa. Super. Page 93]
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County granting appellee-mother's petition for child support. A master heard the evidence, including the fact that the parties are parents of two minor daughters.*fn1 They have been divorced since 1971 and no prior support order was ever entered. The master recommended that appellant pay $50 per week for the support of both children, as well as $8 per week on arrearages. The court of common pleas adopted the findings and decision of the master. This direct appeal by the father followed.
Appellant-father argues on appeal that the lower court abused its discretion in refusing to consider his current living expenses and debts, in failing to take into consideration the weekly earnings of one of the daughters, and in reducing appellant's net pay to an amount less than $50 per week, which he alleges is below the guidelines of the Berks County Domestic Relations Court. Because we find that the trial court did not arrive at the amount of support in accordance with established precedent, we are constrained to vacate the order and remand for further proceedings.
Initially, our review is confined within certain parameters.
[ 339 Pa. Super. Page 94]
"The amount of a child support order is largely within the discretion of the trial judge . . . . A child support order must be fair, not confiscatory, and must be consistent with the parent's station in life and customary standard of living, making due allowance for the reasonable living expenses of the parent." Shank v. Shank, 298 Pa. Superior Ct. 459, 444 A.2d 1274 (1982) (citations omitted).
Moreover, our Supreme Court has said recently:
In order to define the support obligation of each parent, a court must first determine the needs of the children: a court has no way of arriving at a reasonable order of support unless it knows how much money is actually required to care for the children involved. (footnote omitted) Melzer v. Witsberger, 505 Pa. 462, 470, 480 A.2d 991, 995 (1984).*fn2
Finally, our scope of review in child support proceedings is limited; absent a clear abuse of discretion, we will defer to the order of the lower court. Jaskiewicz v. Jaskiewicz, ...