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JAY A. RITTER v. ROBERT H. RITTER (12/05/86)

filed: December 5, 1986.

JAY A. RITTER
v.
ROBERT H. RITTER, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Columbia County, Civil Division, No. D.R. 505 1985.

COUNSEL

Alvin J. Luschas, Bloomsburg, for appellant.

Robert W. Buehner, Jr., Danville, for appellee.

McEwen, Del Sole and Tamilia, JJ.

Author: Tamilia

[ 359 Pa. Super. Page 15]

Appellant/husband filed a divorce action against appellee/wife on September 9, 1985. The present matter was commenced by appellee's answer's request for alimony pendente lite or spousal support and for child support for the parties' two-year old son, Jason.*fn1 After review, the Domestic Relations Officer recommended an award of $350 per month spousal support and $500 per month child support, for a total of $850 per month. Following a de novo hearing, the lower court basically adopted the recommendations of the Domestic Relations Officer but decreased the spousal support to $300 per month and also ordered payment of $50 per month on account of the arrearages. Appellant timely appealed this Order.

Appellant seeks to alter the lower court's spousal support Order by claiming that the court erred in failing to take into account appellant's reasonable expenses in setting the spousal support Order. We find appellant's attempt to appeal the spousal support Order premature. This portion of the appellant's appeal is controlled by Fried v. Fried, 509 Pa. 89, 501 A.2d 211 (1985), in which our Supreme Court held that interim relief orders in divorce cases are "interlocutory and thus not reviewable until final disposition of the case." In discussing alimony pendente lite, the Supreme Court explained:

[I]t was previously held that the payor spouse was entitled to immediate appeal because the amounts paid under such order would be irretrievable. This reasoning, however,

[ 359 Pa. Super. Page 16]

    fails under the Divorce Code of 1980. As stated in Judge Beck's dissent, ". . . the new provisions of the Divorce Code authorizing equitable distribution of marital property and permanent alimony have taken away any reason to fear that funds once paid out pursuant to an interim award are unrecoverable." Sutliff [ v. Sutliff ], supra, 326 Pa. Super. [496] at 504, 474 A.2d [599] at 603 [(1984)] (Beck, J., dissenting). In the event that an initial award of interim relief is granted in error, the court has the power to make adjustments in the final settlement via the equitable division of marital property, permanent alimony, and/or the final award of attorney's fees and costs. Thus, under the new Code the conclusion that a grant of interim financial relief may result in the irreparable loss of a claimed right cannot be supported. We hold, therefore, that such an order is interlocutory and thus not reviewable until final disposition of the case.

Id., 509 Pa. at 96, 501 A.2d at 215. While Fried dealt with an Order issued pursuant to section 502 of the Divorce Code, 23 P.S. ยง 502, we hold the same "strong policy considerations" apply to a spousal support Order. Spousal support and alimony pendente lite are indistinguishable in the context of a divorce action. Therefore, we are without jurisdiction to entertain appellant's interlocutory appeal as to spousal support and accordingly quash that portion of the appeal.*fn2

Appellant's remaining arguments involve the child support portion of the Order. We would distinguish child support from spousal support in a divorce action as the same considerations do not apply. In Fried, supra, the Supreme Court made clear that any inequities that might arise between husband and wife ...


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