Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Cambria County, No. 1982-2840.
Donald J. Strunk, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Mark A. Gregg, Johnstown, for appellee.
Rowley, Wieand and Del Sole, JJ. Del Sole, J., files a concurring and dissenting statement.
[ 354 Pa. Super. Page 286]
The issue in this appeal from an order entered in a divorce action is primarily procedural. It can be understood only by picking one's way carefully through the twisted and turning maze created by the many and varied recommendations, motions, orders and exceptions which make up the record in the trial court.
William H. Reed and Joan Reed were married on April 22, 1953, and separated in June, 1965. William Reed commenced an action in divorce in October, 1982, and a bifurcated decree divorcing the parties was entered on July 11, 1983. A Master appointed to take testimony on the issue of equitable distribution held hearings in May, 1983, and filed a report on June 28, 1983. William Reed filed exceptions to this report. His exceptions were granted on November 17, 1983. A second Master's hearing was held on April 11, 1984, and an amended Master's report was filed on June 4, 1984. This time, the Master's recommendations were unsatisfactory to Joan Reed, and she filed exceptions averring
[ 354 Pa. Super. Page 287]
that the Master had erred in finding that no portion of the Husband's pension with Bethlehem Steel Corp. was marital property.*fn1 These exceptions were dismissed on November 8, 1984, by court order as follows:
AND NOW, on this 8th day of November, 1984, upon consideration of the record, the briefs and arguments of both parties, it is hereby Ordered that the defendant's exceptions in the above captioned matter are dismissed.
On January 17, 1985, more than two months later, Joan Reed filed a petition requesting reconsideration of the order dismissing her exceptions. In support thereof she averred once again that the Master had erroneously concluded that William Reed's pension was not marital property. Now, however, she came armed with the Superior Court's decision in King v. King, 332 Pa. Super. 526, 481 A.2d 913 (1984). William Reed then filed preliminary objections in which he alleged that the petition for reconsideration was untimely and, therefore, improper. The order of November 8, 1984, he contended, had become final when no appeal therefrom was taken within thirty (30) days. On February 6, 1985, following oral argument, the trial court dismissed William's preliminary objections, granted Joan's petition for reconsideration and returned the action to the Master for further consideration in light of the Superior Court's decision in King v. King, supra.
William Reed filed exceptions to the February 6th order granting reconsideration. He argued that it was error to grant reconsideration after a determination had become final because not appealed within thirty (30) days. Joan Reed then filed a motion to strike William's exceptions. These matters were assigned to a different judge, and he, on April 29, 1985, entered an order denying Joan's motion to strike and ...