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ERNESTINE WALKER SANDERS v. MIKE SANDERS (05/03/89)

filed: May 3, 1989.

ERNESTINE WALKER SANDERS
v.
MIKE SANDERS, JR., APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



Appeal from the Order Entered December 2, 1987 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil No. 78-02028. Appeal from the Order Entered March 22, 1988 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Family, No. 78-02028.

COUNSEL

William Goldstein, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Allen N. Abrams, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Cirillo, President Judge, and Beck and Tamilia, JJ.

Author: Cirillo

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 313]

This is a consolidated appeal from two orders entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. The parties, appellee Ernestine Walker Sanders ("Mrs. Sanders") and appellant Mike Sanders, Jr., ("Sanders") were married in 1972 and divorced in 1980. Previously, Mrs. Sanders had been married to Mr. James Walker ("Walker"). During her marriage to Walker, two children were born, Sheila and Steven. This dispute involves the paternity and support of Steven. Steven's birth certificate identifies his mother as Ernestine Walker, appellee here, and his father as James Walker.

When appellee and Walker separated, appellee filed a complaint for support against Walker. On April 4, 1972, an order was entered in the Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division, D.R. # 256613, requiring Walker to pay $18.00 a week for each of his two children, Sheila and Steven. In September of 1981, the order as to Sheila was vacated as of July 6, 1981, the date of her eighteenth birthday, and the order as to Steven was increased to $25.00 per week. This amendment was agreed upon by the parties and reduced to a formal court order and entered on September 4, 1981, D.R. # 256613. No appeal was taken.

In April of 1979, Mrs. Sanders filed a complaint for support against Sanders on behalf of Steven and also on behalf of Celeste, a daughter born during her marriage to Sanders. In February of 1982 the parties entered into a settlement agreement, which was approved by the court. In that agreement, Sanders was required to pay $83.00 per week for child support. The agreement stated that Steven and Celeste Sanders were the "minor children of Mike Sanders, Jr. and Ernestine Walker Sanders." The parties entered into a stipulation which provided that Mrs. Sanders would not "initiate or file any action in any court to increase

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 314]

    support for their children, Steven and Celeste[.]" Thereafter, in August of 1985, Mrs. Sanders filed a complaint for support. The hearing officer proposed that support be increased from $83.00 per week to $160.00 per week. As a result of testimony from that hearing, it was determined that Mrs. Sanders was already receiving $100.00 per month in voluntary support for the minor child Steven from Walker, her first husband. Notwithstanding the consensual support order between Mrs. Sanders and Walker, Mrs. Sanders maintained that appellant Sanders is Steven's natural father.

Sanders filed exceptions to the proposed support order. These exceptions were granted, and the case was remanded for specific findings of fact and conclusions of law as to appellant's obligation to support Steven. At that hearing, Mrs. Sanders testified that Steven was born during her marriage to Walker, and that Walker was identified as the father on Steven's birth certificate. Despite this, she maintained that Sanders was the natural father of Steven. The court ordered the parties to submit to blood tests, after which the matter was to be re-listed to resolve the issue of paternity.

Sanders took exception to the court's order, arguing that the court was without jurisdiction to order blood tests since a previous agreement for an order of support between Mrs. Sanders and Walker had already established the paternity of Steven. These exceptions were denied, and Sanders was ordered to pay $160.00 per week for both children. The order was dated March 12, 1987. On April 7, 1987, this order was vacated pending adjudication of Sanders' motion for reconsideration. On May 13, 1987, the order was amended, reinstating the original temporary order of $83.00 per week. On December 2, 1987, the trial court entered the following order for support:

The Court finds that the Order of March 12, 1987 was entered in error since the proposed order of $160.00 per week was no longer in existence after the remand. Wherefore, the defendant's Motion to Reconsider is

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 315]

Granted, and the Order of March 12, 1987 is ...


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