Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Warren County, No. 343 of 1986.
Thomas E. Africa, Warren, for appellant.
Wieand, Montemuro and Popovich, JJ. Montemuro, J., files a dissenting opinion.
[ 370 Pa. Super. Page 597]
The issue in this appeal is whether a wife who is employed as an executive secretary should be required to contribute to the support of a husband whose job as a township police officer has been eliminated and who is unemployed. The trial court rejected the hearing officer's recommendation for an order of forty ($40.00) dollars per week, found that the husband had failed to show a need for support, and dismissed the husband's petition. Husband appealed. We reverse.
Richard A. McWilliams and Sara A. McWilliams were married on April 22, 1968. There were no children born to the marriage. Husband had been the chief of police in Mead Township for approximately fifteen years until the township supervisors, in 1986, abolished that position. Thereafter, McWilliams received unemployment compensation until it expired. At the time of the hearing before the trial court, he was unemployed, living with his mother and borrowing money from her to meet his expenses. He had taken a civil service exam but had been unable to find employment in Warren, where he resides.
Wife was employed as a secretary by Struthers-Wills Corp., which paid her a gross salary in 1986 of $20,996.18.*fn1 The trial court found that her weekly take-home pay was $287.79. She lives in a home which she owns jointly with her brother.
Husband and wife own jointly a residence which has a value of Forty Thousand Dollars and a vacant lot having a value of Five Thousand Dollars. Neither the residence nor the lot is producing income. Wife has a pension plan and savings account. Husband owns approximately twelve automobiles, of which two are licensed and only five are operable. Most are inoperable; they are used for their parts, which McWilliams can occasionally sell to others.
When Husband's father died in 1983, the parties moved into the home owned and occupied by his mother. On
[ 370 Pa. Super. Page 598]
March 1, 1986, wife left voluntarily and without husband's consent.
If the respective circumstances of the parties were reversed and the wife had asked for an order requiring the payment of support by her husband, the result would be clear. If a court refused to make an award, an appellate court would reverse. Why, then, shouldn't a wife be required to contribute to the support of a husband according to her ability when the ...