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PATRICIA J. YOUNG v. JOHN M. YOUNG AND JULIE YOUNG (02/15/85)

decided: February 15, 1985.

PATRICIA J. YOUNG, APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN M. YOUNG AND JULIE YOUNG, HIS WIFE, APPELLEES



No. 34 E.D. Appeal Docket 1984, Appeal from the Judgment entered October 7, 1983, Superior Court of Pennsylvania, at No. 4 Philadelphia 1982, Pa. Super. , Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Zappala, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Nix, C.j., and Flaherty, J., joined.

Author: Larsen

[ 507 Pa. Page 42]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant Patricia Young and appellee John Young were divorced by the Superior Court of New Jersey on July 13, 1977, after twenty-nine years of marriage. During the marriage, appellee had worked as a police officer for the City of Easton, Pennsylvania, and certain amounts of money

[ 507 Pa. Page 43]

    had been deducted from his pay and deposited into the police pension fund established by the city. On July 10, 1978, the New Jersey court entered an order distributing the assets of the parties and providing, inter alia, for payment to appellant of one-half the amount which appellee receives from the police pension fund.*fn1 On October 30, 1978, the New Jersey court found appellee to be in arrears in his pension fund payments to appellant in the amount of $1,145.55 and held him in contempt of court. Subsequently, on April 29, 1980, the New Jersey court entered a judgment against appellee in the amount of $6,055.55.*fn2 On June 18, 1980, this judgment was certified in the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, and on November 4, 1980, the New Jersey orders regarding the parties' divorce and property distribution were "adopted" by the Court of Common Pleas.*fn3 The Court of Common Pleas then denied appellee's petition to modify the property distribution.*fn4

On June 8, 1981, appellant filed a petition seeking to "freeze" appellee's pension fund payments for her benefit. The Court of Common Pleas treated this as a request "to attach pension payments" and denied the petition. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed. Young v. Young, 320 Pa. Super. 269,

[ 507 Pa. Page 44467]

A.2d 33 (1983). We granted allocatur and we now reverse.

Since this case involves only questions of law, we are not bound by the conclusions of the courts below: "[c]onclusions of law are always subject to our review on appeal . . . ." Fiore v. Fiore, 405 Pa. 303, 305, 174 A.2d 858, 859 (1961). Accordingly, we may fully consider the questions of statutory interpretation presented for our review. See Commonwealth, Higher Education Assistance Agency v. Abington Memorial Hospital, 478 Pa. 514, 521, 387 A.2d 440, 443 (1978) (opinion in support of affirmance) (citation omitted) ("Undoubtedly questions of statutory interpretation . . . are for the courts to resolve . . . .'").

The pension fund from which appellee draws his pension was created by the City of Easton pursuant to provisions of the Third Class City Code, Act of June 23, 1931, P.L. 932, as amended, 53 P.S. § 35101 et seq.*fn5 That act provides that

The compensation or pension herein mentioned shall not be subject to attachment or execution, and shall be payable

[ 507 Pa. Page 45]

    only to the beneficiary designated, and shall not be subject to ...


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