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LESLIE W. CHANEY v. KAREN V. CHANEY (05/31/85)

filed: May 31, 1985.

LESLIE W. CHANEY, APPELLANT,
v.
KAREN V. CHANEY, APPELLEE



Appeal From the Order of the court of Common Pleas of Butler county Entered September 4, 1984 at F.C. No. 80-1204.

COUNSEL

Robert J. Stock, Butler, for appellant.

Leo M. Stepanian, Butler, for appellee.

Cirillo, Hoffman and Rosenwald,*fn* JJ.

Author: Cirillo

[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 80]

Leslie W. Chaney appeals from the September 4, 1984 order of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas.

The parties were married on September 10, 1960, and separated on July 1, 1979; a divorce decree was granted on November 9, 1982. Appellant is employed by Armco Steel Corporation at an annual net salary of $30,000.00; Armco provides him with life insurance, various medical benefits, a pension plan, and paid holidays. In addition, Armco awarded appellant a $10,000.00 prize for a suggestion appellant made on improving company efficiency; this award was announced before the parties separated, but paid out afterwards.

By contrast, appellee was a homemaker from the birth of the parties' first child in 1962 until the separation. She is now employed as a practical nurse at a church home, at an annual net salary of $7,000.00; the home provides no fringe benefits. Appellee can work only part-time because of her affliction with multiple sclerosis; it is unlikely that she will be able to find more profitable, full-time employment. She also has custody of the parties' two minor children; two other children are now adults.

The master awarded alimony of $450.00 per month, and support of $150.00 per month for each of the two minor children. He stated that alimony would terminate upon appellee's death, remarriage or cohabitation with another man, or be altered upon a showing of changed circumstances, but did not specify that the award would terminate upon appellant's death. To the contrary, the master directed appellant to designate appellee as the beneficiary of appellant's group term life insurance policy from Armco, in order to provide some security for appellee in the event that appellant predecease her without her remarriage or cohabitation. The master then stated that this direction was not

[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 81]

    meant to eliminate the obligation on appellant's estate to pay alimony to appellee. The master awarded appellee two-thirds of the marital assets, and appellant one-third. He recommended that appellant pay four-fifths of appellee's counsel fees and two-thirds of the master's fees. Finally, the master distributed the $10,000.00 Armco prize, without adjustments for income taxes, and required appellant to pay appellee $1,000.00 for repairs to the marital home.

Appellant excepted to the master's report, challenging, in part, the duration of the alimony award, the disposition of the Armco life insurance policy, the division of the marital property, including the Armco prize, the award of fees, and the $1,000.00 assessment against appellant for home repairs. The court sustained only the exceptions which disputed the distribution of the Armco prize and the home repairs assessment. It eliminated the $1,000.00 payment for home repairs, stating that canceling this payment would rectify the master's error in distributing the prize money without having made an adjustment for revenue charges.

Appellant now presents five questions:*fn1

1) May a spouse or his estate be required to provide for the payment of alimony after the death of the obligated spouse, where there has been no prior agreement to pay such alimony?

2) May a court order retention of a spouse as the beneficiary of a term life insurance policy furnished by the insured spouse's employer and over which the insured spouse has no control?

[ 343 Pa. Super. Page 823]

) Does a court abuse its discretion when it assesses approximately four-fifths of a spouse's counsel fees against the other spouse, where it also awards the first spouse approximately two-thirds of the marital property?

4) Does a court abuse its discretion when it assesses two-thirds of the master's fees against a spouse, where it also awards two-thirds of the marital assets to the other spouse?

5) Does a court abuse its discretion or err in law when it assesses $1,000.00 against a spouse for repairs to the marital home, incurred during the time the other spouse resided there after the separation, when during that separation the ...


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