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JAMES F. MICHAEL v. LINDA L. MICHAEL (01/27/87)

filed: January 27, 1987.

JAMES F. MICHAEL, APPELLANT,
v.
LINDA L. MICHAEL, APPELLEE



Appeal from Order entered March 18, 1986, in the Court of Common Pleas of Columbia County, Civil No. D R 275 of 1984.

COUNSEL

Thomas A. James Jr., Bloomsburg, for appellant.

William S. Kreisher, Bloomsburg, for appellee.

Wieand, Olszewski and Cercone, JJ. Wieand, J., files dissenting opinion.

Author: Olszewski

[ 360 Pa. Super. Page 313]

Appellant appeals from the denial of his petition for child support by the Court of Common Pleas of Columbia County. This appeal raises two issues: (1) whether the trial court properly exercised its discretion in finding that appellee (mother) is not required to make payments for the support of her minor child, who is presently in the custody of appellant (father); and (2) whether an agreement between the parties negated appellee's obligation to support the child.*fn1 For the reasons stated below, we affirm the order of the trial court.

[ 360 Pa. Super. Page 314]

Appellant and appellee were married in April 1972 and divorced in July 1982. During their marriage, they had one child, Chad James Michael, who was born on September 14, 1972. At the time of the divorce, custody of the minor child was awarded to appellant, who presently retains custody, but an order for child support was neither sought by the parties nor entered by the trial court. Appellant agreed to assume full responsibility for the support of Chad.

Appellant, however, did file a petition for child support against appellee in June 1984, almost two years after the parties were divorced. After a hearing before the Honorable Jay W. Meyers, the trial court denied appellant's petition for child support, and appellant filed an appeal with the Superior Court, docketed at No. 00054 Philadelphia 1985. In this first appeal, the Superior Court remanded the case to the trial court since the trial court failed to file an opinion pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) stating the facts and rationale underlying its denial of the child support petition. After the trial court filed an opinion supporting its order, appellant filed the present appeal with the Superior Court.

The appellate scope of review in child support cases is very narrow. See Butler v. Butler, 339 Pa. Super. 312, 315, 488 A.2d 1141, 1142 (1985). A trial court has broad discretion in awarding child support payments. See Commonwealth ex rel. Stump v. Church, 333 Pa. Super. 166, 168-69, 481 A.2d 1358, 1359 (1984). In Shondel v. Leedom, 350 Pa. Super. 274,

[ 360 Pa. Super. Page 315504]

A.2d 353 (1986), the Superior Court discussed the extent of appellate review of a trial court's order regarding child support. The Court noted:

[W]e must note that it is well settled that we cannot disturb a lower court's order of support absent a clear abuse of discretion or law. A finding of such abuse is not lightly made and must rest upon a showing of clear and convincing ...


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