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EDITH SCHOFFSTALL v. RONALD SCHOFFSTALL (06/19/87)

filed: June 19, 1987.

EDITH SCHOFFSTALL
v.
RONALD SCHOFFSTALL, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Family Division, No. 84-08109.

COUNSEL

Alexander A. Bluestone, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Stanley I. Selkowitz, McKeesport, for appellee.

Rowley, Del Sole and Tamilia, JJ.

Author: Tamilia

[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 143]

This is an appeal from an Order dated June 23, 1986, adjudging the appellant to be in contempt and imposing sanctions for failure to comply with an Order to pay alimony pendente lite. To better understand this case and the events that led to the contempt Order, we believe a review of the history as shown by the record is desirable.

Appellant/husband filed a complaint in divorce against appellee/wife in August of 1984. As part of her answer, appellee/wife included claims for equitable distribution, alimony, alimony pendente lite, counsel fees, costs and expenses.

After a hearing, the hearing officer made recommendations as to alimony pendente lite and exceptions were filed. Upon agreement of the parties, the recommendations were vacated and the matter was again listed before a hearing officer. After a second hearing, during which time the hearing officer entered a recommendation that appellant pay $390 per month as alimony pendente lite plus $130 per month on arrearages set at $1,560, the trial court, on April

[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 14415]

, 1985, entered an Order in accordance with the hearing officer's recommendations.

On June 27, 1985, appellee/wife filed a petition for contempt alleging that no payments had yet been made. On July 19, 1985, the court entered an Order finding appellant in contempt and stating that appellant could purge himself of the contempt by compliance with the Order. On July 31, 1985, after a hearing before Judge Kaplan, the court found appellant had not complied with the Order and, therefore, ordered him incarcerated until he made a $1,000 payment to appellee. After a day of incarceration, appellant paid the $1,000 and the Order was vacated.

On January 22, 1986, the parties again appeared before the hearing officer for a hearing on a contempt petition filed by appellee and on appellant's petition for modification of the pendente lite Order and for enforcement of a purported settlement agreement. On March 13, 1986, the hearing officer recommended that appellant's petitions be denied and further recommended that appellant be found in contempt of court. Appellant was given an opportunity to purge himself of the contempt by (1) making a payment of $1,000 against arrearages by April 29 and (2) keeping the existing support Order current. Exceptions were filed to the recommendations but were dismissed by Judge Standish on May 12, 1986. The Order also affirmed the hearing officer's finding of contempt and stated that appellant would be sent before a judge for possible incarceration if he failed to comply with the Order. Appellant appealed the Order to our Court; however, we sua sponte quashed the appeal as no sanctions were imposed and thus the contempt Order was found to be interlocutory.

This case was then scheduled for a review for compliance before a hearing officer on June 23, 1986. On that date, after the initial hearing, the hearing officer requested that Judge Wettick hear the matter because of the possibility that appellant would be placed in jail. As of June 23, 1986, appellant had made only one ...


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