Appeal from the Order entered on January 20, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Civil Division, at No. DRS NO. A06-82-61615-S 17.
Jerold S. Berschler, Norristown, for appellant.
Thomas R. Hecker, Langhorne, for appellee.
Olszewski, Beck and Johnson, JJ. Olszewski, J., files dissenting opinion.
[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 225]
This case presents the issue of whether a trial court, in a support case, must enter on the record the arithmetical calculations found in Melzer v. Witsberger, 505 Pa. 462, 480 A.2d 991 (1984) where one party has intentionally failed to provide accurate financial information or has withheld financial information required under the formula. We conclude that under these circumstances, a trial court is not required to place Melzer calculations on the record.
Maurice Olson (father) and Dale Fisher Olson (mother) were married in December, 1977 and divorced in September, 1983. The parties have shared custody of their son Adam. The original child support order has been subject to several
[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 226]
modifications. By order dated July 12, 1986, father was to pay $63.00 per week plus arrearages in child support. On October 22, 1987, father filed a petition to decrease support payments based upon changed circumstances, namely, that he is unemployed and receiving unemployment compensation. On January 19, 1988, mother filed a petition for increase of support. Father also later filed a petition seeking child support. The parties stipulated that all petitions would be considered together. After a hearing on January 20, 1988, the trial court increased the order to $70.00 per week plus $10.00 per week in arrears, and denied father's petition for support. Father appealed.
In arriving at its determination, the trial court noted that the matter was originally conferenced before a domestic relations officer. The father's 1986 income tax return reported income of $37,763.00. However, the hearing officer properly focused on the father's 1987 income; the income figure which would be used in calculating the Melzer formula. At the hearing, father, a registered pharmacist, testified that he was enrolled as a full-time college student, hoping to earn a master's degree in family therapy by June, 1988. Father testified that his sole source of income for 1987 was Unemployment Compensation amounting to $228.00 per week for twelve weeks. On cross-examination, however, he admitted that on December 3, 1987, he leased a new 1988 Toyota for 60 months at $412.91 per month. The application and car lease were entered into evidence. On the application, father listed his income as $40,000 per year plus $300.00 per month as payment for part-time teaching. Father also acknowledged that he has approximately $17,000 in bank accounts, and two pieces of real estate estimated to be worth $70,000 and $20,000, respectively.
Based upon this information, the trial court denied father's petition for reduction of child support. On appeal, appellant/father asserts that the trial court erred in failing to consider the Bucks County Support Guidelines or to apply Melzer calculations on the record.
[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 227]
"In evaluating support orders, our scope of review is limited to ascertaining whether there was sufficient evidence to sustain the order and whether there has been an abuse of discretion by the trial court." Shank v. Shank, 298 Pa. ...