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DORIS CANUTE v. JACOB G. CANUTE (04/17/89)

filed: April 17, 1989.

DORIS CANUTE, APPELLEE,
v.
JACOB G. CANUTE, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Civil Division at No. 512 D.R. 1988.

COUNSEL

Kathy W. Morrison, Harrisburg, for appellant.

Todd A. Hoover, Harrisburg, for appellee.

Wieand, Popovich and Hester, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 62]

This is an appeal from a June 14, 1988, order of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas directing appellant/husband to pay appellee/wife spousal support in the amount of $130.00 per week plus $20.00 per week on arrears effective March 7, 1988. For the reasons herein set forth, we reverse.

The pertinent facts are as follows: Appellant and appellee started their romantic relationship on March 29, 1983, after they met at the Grantville, Pennsylvania, Holiday Inn. On April 14, 1983, appellant moved in with appellee. Throughout their relationship, appellee knew appellant was married to Sandra Canute.

Appellant began divorce proceedings from Sandra Canute in 1983, but the divorce was not finalized until January 18, 1985. Although appellee knew appellant was already married, she made arrangements for the couple to be married on May 6, 1983, in Roanoke, Virginia. Thereafter, the couple first separated on or about December, 1987, and separated for the final time on February 6, 1988.

A complaint for spousal support was filed by appellee on or about March 16, 1988. Following a support conference, a recommended order for spousal support was entered on April 14, 1988, in the amount of $150.00 per week, plus $10.00 per week on arrears. On April 28, 1988, appellant filed an appeal to the trial court. The Honorable Clarance C. Morrison held a de novo hearing on June 14, 1988, thereafter entering the order in question. See Pa.R.C.P. 1910.11. On July 13, 1988, appellant timely filed a notice of appeal to this Court.

Appellant raises three issues for our consideration. First, he argues the trial court erred in determining that a common law marriage existed between himself and appellee.*fn1 Secondly, appellant contends that neither the divorce

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 63]

    code nor marriage law provides a statutory sanction of marriage when the parties entered into a civil marriage fully aware of a legal impediment to the marriage. Appellant's final argument is that the June 14, 1988, order of spousal support is excessive.

In the case of In Manfredi Estate, 399 Pa. 285, 159 A.2d 697 (1960), our Supreme Court discussed statutory and common law marriages. The Court noted that: "[m]arriage in Pennsylvania is a civil contract by which a man and a woman take each other for husband and wife. There are two kinds of marriage: (1) ceremonial; and (2) common law. A ceremonial marriage is a wedding or marriage performed by a religious or civil authority with the usual or customary ceremony or formalities. It is too often forgotten that a common law marriage is a marriage by the express agreement of the parties without ceremony, and almost invariably without a witness, by words -- not in futuro or in postea, but -- ...


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