APPEAL FROM THE ORDER ENTERED JUNE 20, 1986 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY, NO. 84-3422
James Cunilio, Bry Mawr, for appellant.
Frances A. Fruhwirth, Doylestown, for appellee.
Cirillo, President Judge, and Rowley and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 362 Pa. Super. Page 215]
This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County denying a request for equitable distribution and all other economic claims under the Divorce Code. We quash.
[ 362 Pa. Super. Page 216]
On December 27, 1983, appellee, Helene Colagioia, and appellant, Angelo Colagioia, executed a prenuptial agreement. Helene waived all rights to Angelo's property and all claims to alimony and support if the marriage terminated other than by death. The parties were married on December 31, 1983 and two months later, Helene filed for divorce. She asked that the prenuptial agreement be incorporated into the divorce decree, but in the alternative she requested equitable distribution, alimony and counsel fees. Angelo counterclaimed, requesting similar relief. After a hearing, a master recommended that all economic claims be denied as barred by the prenuptial agreement.
Angelo filed timely exceptions to the master's report and, in accordance with local practice, the trial court held a de novo hearing. In a decree nisi dated May 2, 1986, the trial court found that the prenuptial agreement governed the parties economic rights, denied all ancillary claims under the Divorce Code, and advised the parties that the decree would become final unless post-trial motions pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 227.1 were filed within ten days. Angelo filed timely post-trial motions which the court denied with directions to the prothonotary to enter the May 2, 1986 decree nisi as a final decree. No decree of divorce was ever entered by the prothonotary or issued by the court. This appeal followed.
Angelo attacks the validity of the trial court's order on several grounds, but we need not address each of his claims individually. His appeal must be quashed as interlocutory because it has been taken from an order denying equitable distribution. In Campbell v. Campbell, 357 Pa. Super. 483, 516 A.2d 363 (1986) (en banc), this court held that settlement of economic and property claims is an incident of divorce. Therefore, a pre-divorce order of equitable distribution is interlocutory and cannot be reviewed until rendered final by the entry of a divorce decree. In the instant case, the trial court determined the economic rights of the parties, but inadvertently failed to issue a divorce decree. Because of this failure, we must quash the appeal.
[ 362 Pa. Super. Page 217]
However, we note that Helene challenged the validity of Angelo's post-trial motions. This presents an interesting point which has recently been causing members of the bar a great deal of confusion.
Under the new Pennsylvania Divorce Code, there are two alternative procedures governing economic claims. The trial court may hear and decide the case or, upon the court's own motion or the motion of either party, the court may appoint a master to hear the testimony and file ...