Appeal from the Order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Civil Division, No. 1484 N 1985.
William J. Gallagher, Kennett Square, for Jamie N. Lasky.
A. Thomas Parke, III, Westchester, for Jessie I. Lasky.
Cavanaugh, Tamilia and Kelly, JJ. Kelly, J., concurs in the result.
[ 385 Pa. Super. Page 509]
These are cross-appeals of a trial court Order dismissing plaintiff/mother's petition to increase the existing support Order for the parties' eight year old son, Gregory, and granting defendant/father's petition to modify child support by reducing the child support requirement of father to $400.44 per month. The Order subject of the two petitions for modification was entered by the hearing officer February 26, 1986 in the amount of $830, $490 being the support guidelines amount and $340 being allocated for psychiatric care for Gregory. Arrears on this Order were ultimately settled in the amount of $660 per month from September 16, 1985, the date of complaint to June 30, 1987. The following analysis and discussion will resolve the issues presented by both appeals.
Father was involved in a car accident on March 31, 1981 in which he suffered a serious head injury causing permanent brain damage and preventing him from ever being able to work again or live independently. As a result of a products-liability suit, a settlement was reached in December, 1984, of which he received approximately 80 per cent or $1,854,009 and wife received 20 per cent or $463,502. Pursuant to court Orders dispersing the settlement funds, father placed $185,400 in a trust for his son, which generates approximately $770 per month in income to support Gregory. In wife's petition to increase support, she claims the reasonable needs of the child amount to $3,449 per month, while husband, in his petition to modify or dismiss the support Order, claims Gregory's reasonable needs are being met by the trust fund income and the social security benefits Gregory receives in the amount of $161 per month.
Mother raises several issues on appeal alleging trial court error in its findings regarding the incomes and expenses of the parties, the reasonable needs of Gregory and the application
[ 385 Pa. Super. Page 510]
of the Melzer*fn1 formula. Father, in turn, argues the court erred in ordering him to pay anything more than the income taxes on the net income of the support trust.
Our scope of review is very limited in child support Orders -- we will not disturb the Order unless the evidence is insufficient to sustain the Order or the trial court has abused its discretion. Steenland-Parker v. Parker, 375 Pa. Super. 457, 544 A.2d 1010 (1988). An abuse of discretion must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. DeMasi v. DeMasi, 366 Pa. Super. 19, 530 A.2d 871 (1987).
"An abuse of discretion is not 'merely an error of judgment, but if in reaching a conclusion the law is overridden or misapplied, or the judgment exercised is manifestly unreasonable, or the result of partiality, prejudice, bias or ill-will, as shown by the ...