Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, of Cumberland County, No. 571 of 1982.
JoAnne R. Clough, Harrisburg, for appellant.
Michael R. Rundle, Carlisle, for appellee.
Wieand, Tamilia and Cercone, JJ.
[ 370 Pa. Super. Page 323]
In this support case, both parents have remarried and have given up employment to become full-time homemakers and to care for their two children, whose custody and support they share equally. Although both parties were able to provide half of the childrens' support from the earnings of their spouses, the trial court required the father to pay an additional one hundred twenty-one ($121.00) dollars per month to mother for the support of the children. Father appealed. We reverse. Under the circumstances of this case, the order was an abuse of discretion.
Larry S. Hoover, father-appellant, and Linda K. Bower, mother-appellee, have been divorced since 1983. Physical and legal custody of their two minor children, Ian, born February 2, 1976, and Sarah, born January 3, 1979, is shared. The children reside with each parent fifty (50%) percent of the time. Every Friday, the children change households for the following week. Both parties have remarried, and each has a child with his or her new spouse. After the birth of mother-appellee's new child, she elected to remain at home as a homemaker and, consequently, gave up a job which had been paying one hundred thirty-one ($131.00) dollars per week. Her new husband earns forty-nine thousand five hundred ($49,500.00) dollars per year. Father-appellant also terminated his employment, which had produced earnings of three hundred eighteen dollars and twenty-five cents ($318.25) per week, in order to become a homemaker and to provide full-time care for his children. His new wife, an attorney, earns thirty-eight thousand ($38,000.00) dollars per year.
In February, 1986, an order requiring father to pay support in the amount of one hundred fifty ($150.00) dollars per month for his two children was entered. Father appealed. This Court determined that the trial court record was insufficient to determine the needs of the children. Therefore, the order was vacated and the case was remanded for
[ 370 Pa. Super. Page 324]
further proceedings to determine the needs of the children. Following a hearing on that matter, the trial court determined that the parties were each expending approximately two hundred ($200.00) dollars per month in direct support and expenses for the children while they were in their respective homes. The court ordered father to pay the sum of one hundred twenty-one ($121.00) dollars per month for the support of the children.
The amount of an order of child support is generally within the discretion of the trial judge. Commonwealth ex rel. Cragle v. Cragle, 277 Pa. Super. 349, 352, 419 A.2d 1179, 1180-1181 (1980). In the absence of a manifest abuse of that discretion, a reviewing court will defer to the trial court's determination as to the amount of support to be paid. Commonwealth ex rel. Loring v. Loring, 339 Pa. Super. 92, 94, 488 A.2d 324, 325 (1985); Jaskiewicz v. Jaskiewicz, 325 Pa. Super. 507, 509, 473 A.2d 183, 184 (1984); Shank v. Shank, 298 Pa. Super. 459, 462, 444 A.2d 1274, 1275-1276 (1982); Commonwealth ex rel. Cragle v. Cragle, supra; Commonwealth ex rel. Levy v. Levy, 240 Pa. Super. 168, 170, 361 A.2d 781, 785 (1976).
Generally, "a child support order must be fair, not confiscatory, and must be consistent with the parent's station in life and customary standard of living, making due allowance for the reasonable expenses of the parent." Commonwealth ex rel. Cragle v. Cragle, supra, 277 Pa. Superior Ct. at 352, 419 A.2d at 1181. See: Sutliff v. Sutliff, 339 Pa. Super. 523, 538-539, 489 A.2d 764, 771 (1985); Commonwealth ex rel. Robinson v. Robinson, 318 Pa. Super. 424, 425-426, 465 A.2d 27, 28 (1983). See also: Conway v. Dana, 456 Pa. 536, 318 A.2d 324 (1974). In fashioning an order of child support, the court must consider (1) the reasonable expenses of raising the children; and (2) the respective abilities of the parents to support their children. Melzer v. Witsberger, 505 Pa. 462, 471, 480 ...