Appeal from the Ordered Entered December 12, 1984 in the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County, Civil No. 84-1065.
John R. Kelsey, III, Lebanon, for appellant (at No. 26) and appellee (at No. 27).
Kenneth C. Sandoe, Myerstown, for appellant (at No. 27) and appellee (at No. 26).
Rowley, Olszewski and Montemuro, JJ.
[ 350 Pa. Super. Page 276]
This appeal and cross-appeal are the result of a lower court decision awarding Barbara Shindel $20 a week child support for her thirteen year old son. Because of the nature of the issues raised, a recitation of the facts are necessary.
On September 6, 1972, Ms. Shindel gave birth, out-of-wed-lock, to a boy. One month later, Richard Leedom signed a petition for support order. Although not accompanied by counsel, the seventeen year old was accompanied by his
[ 350 Pa. Super. Page 277]
mother, who witnessed his signature on the petition. A clause in that petition stated that Mr. Leedom was aware of his rights, had been Mirandized, and waived these rights. Various orders and petitions were entered by the court concerning these parties' obligations and for four years, Mr. Leedom made support payments. Support was voluntarily terminated by Ms. Shindel in September of 1976. No other action was taken until January 1984 when Ms. Shindel again petitioned for support. For the first time in twelve years, Mr. Leedom denied paternity. A domestic relations officer recommended support in the amount of $45 a week but the lower court ordered child support payments of $20 a week. Ms. Shindel appeals this order and asks for an increase to $45 a week. Mr. Leedom, in turn, cross-appeals and denies paternity. The cross-appeal further alleges that the action by Ms. Shindel is barred by the Statute of Limitations. Because the issue of paternity must be resolved before we can decide the propriety of the support award, we will discuss the issues of the cross-appeal first.
Mr. Leedom argues first that the cause of action is barred by the Statute of Limitations found in 42 Pa.C.S.A. Sec. 6704(b).*fn1 Ancillary to that is Mr. Leedom's argument that the doctrine of res judicata does not prevent him from raising the issue of paternity.
It is well established that a final, valid judgment precludes further litigation of the same issue by the same parties. Where a reasonable opportunity has been afforded to the parties to litigate a claim before the court and the court has finally decided the controversy, the interests of the state and of the parties require that the validity of the claim and any issue actually litigated shall not be litigated
[ 350 Pa. Super. Page 278]
again. Haines Industries, Inc. et al. v. City of Allentown, 237 Pa. Super. 188, 355 A.2d 588 (1975). See also, Williams v. Murdoch, 330 F.2d 745 (3d Cir.1964); Restatements of Judgments, Sec. 1. In addition, before the doctrine of res judicata will apply, there must be: (1) identity of the thing sued on or for; (2) identity of the cause of action; (3) identity of the persons and parties to the action; and (4) identity of the quality or ...