Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rich v. Rich

January 15, 2009


Appeal from the Order Entered January 3, 2008 In the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County Domestic Relations at Nos. 2003-36076 & PACSES No. 658105245. Appeal from the Order Entered January 3, 2008 In the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County Domestic Relations at Nos. 2003-36076 & ID 658105245.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bender, J.

BEFORE: Orie Melvin, Bender and Fitzgerald*fn1, JJ.


¶ 1 John W. Rich, Jr., (Father) appeals from the January 3, 2008 order directing that he pay child support to Diane P. Rich (Mother) on behalf of the parties' four children. Mother cross-appeals from the same order. We affirm in part and vacate and remand in part.

¶ 2 The trial court provided the following background information that led to the present appeal:

The brief history of this case is that [Mother] and [Father] were married on January 28, 1989. On the day of the wedding, the parties executed a prenuptial agreement. Mrs. Rich filed a divorce action on October 15, 2001. The parties are the parents of four (4) children: [L.R.] (DOB June 17, 1989), who has reached her majority, [O.R.] (DOB April 17, 1991), [J.R.] (DOB September 5, 1992) and [I.R.] (DOB April 24, 1995).

After an interim support order was issued, [Father] filed exceptions thereto, arguing that there should be no support order because [Mother] was still living in the marital home and [Father] was paying all of the expenses. On or about Memorial Day of 2004, [Mother] and [the] four children moved out of the marital home. [Mother] filed this instant support complaint on June 7, 2004. Hearings on this matter were held [before a Master] on May 26, 2006, October 3, 2006, and February 6, 2007,[9] wherein both parties were represented by counsel, both parties testified, and several exhibits were made part of the record.

[9] It is not clear from the record why the hearings were held two (2) years after the complaint for support was filed.

Trial Court Opinion, 1/3/08, at 2. In his report, dated May 31, 2007, the Master recommended that Father pay to Mother the sum of $9,337.12 per month in support of the four children. This amount was calculated with a reduction of 20% because of the equally shared custody arrangement. The Master's report was made an order of court on June 3, 2007, following which Mother filed numerous exceptions; Father filed none. Mother had stipulated that, as a result of the Master's support order that greatly lowered Father's support obligation from an earlier order,*fn2 the Domestic Relation's Office recorded a credit to Father in excess of $800,000.00.

¶ 3 In response to Mother's exceptions, the trial court issued an order and opinion on January 3, 2008. The order directed Father to pay $15,791.67 per month, effective June 7, 2004, for the support of the four children. The court also ordered that effective June 17, 2007, the same sum was to be paid by Father per month for the support of the three children who had not reached age 18. In an attempt to reconcile the overpayment that by January 3, 2007, had been reduced to $498,903.02, the court incorrectly required Father to remit the sum of $15,791.67 to the Pennsylvania Support Collection and Disbursement Unit (PA SCDU) that would then transmit only $11,791.67 to Mother each month. Recognizing the error, the court issued an amending order on March 20, 2008, lowering Father's actual payment to $11,791.67 even though the support amount remained at $15,791.67, thus, allowing the $4,000.00 difference to be credited against Father's accumulated overpayment.

¶ 4 The trial court's January 3, 2008 opinion also provided the following factual information upon which the support order was based:

In the case at bar, the Father is the CEO of Gilberton Coal Company, Reading Anthracite Company, and many other companies including cogeneration facilities. The Father's estimated annual income is between $9,000,000.00 and $10,000,000.00, and he owns assets worth more than $40,000,000.00. The Mother does not work outside of the home and is dependent on the child support to meet the needs of the children.

The Father's house, which was the marital home, and the contents therein are valued between $2,000,000.00 and $3,000,000.00. The house is located on 150 acres of land. In addition to the 10,000 square foot home with an Olympic-sized, indoor swimming pool, the property has a barn, a farm house, a three-story garage and a tree house on it. Additionally, the property has a stream and ponds for fishing, an area for riding all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, and an area for camping. In contrast, the Mother's home, which she purchased in May 2004 for $725,000.00, is located on six-tenths of an acre of land and has none of the amenities that the Father's house has. The Mother is in the process of finishing the basement, which will add at least another 1,000 square feet of living space to the home. The Father paid off the $800,000.00 mortgage on the Mother's house in 2005, so the Mother no longer has the expense of that mortgage.

When the parties were married, they would travel worldwide as a family, and would stay at the best hotels and dine in the best restaurants. Additionally, the family would spend summers in New Jersey at a beach house owned by the Father's family and would spend time in Florida in a property owned by the Father's family. The children are still able to enjoy these travel opportunities with the Father. On the other hand, the Mother cannot afford to take the children on the same types of vacations. For example, the Mother took the children to Rehobeth Beach, Delaware for two weeks last summer and to New York City and Chicago for a few days.

The Mother testified at the hearing that her total expenses in 2005 for herself and the children were approximately $205,000.00. Part of that expense was for her attorney's fees in the amount of $15,500.00 regarding another legal matter. Also, the Mother testified that her total expenses in 2004 for herself and the children were $201,000.00, which included $50,000.00 in attorney's fees on another matter. The Father did not present evidence to dispute these figures, but argued that the expenses were not exclusively for the children and that the Mother should have itemized the expenses paid for her benefit. The Mother estimated that approximately 10% of the total expenses were paid on her behalf.

Trial Court Opinion, 1/3/08, at 6-8. Lastly, the trial court concluded:

We accept the Mother's testimony regarding the 2005 annual expenses required to support the children as $189,500.00,[11] which is $15,791.67 per month. We are not adjusting the monthly support after [L.R.] attained 18 years of age because we believe the normal cost-of-living increases for the expenses of the remaining three children will offset that amount. Because the Mother is not employed outside of the home and has no income, we find that the Melzer*fn3 analysis places 100% of the support obligation on the Father. Therefore, the Melzer analysis requires that Father pay 100% of the children's needs, or $15,791.67 per month. Furthermore, as explained in Melzer, the adjustment for shared physical custody provided for in Part II of Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-4 does not apply in a Melzer case. See Bulgarelli, supra. at 113. The Mother is required to maintain her house no matter where the children are sleeping on any given night.

[11] Mother testified that she spent $205,000.00 in 2005. However, we find that $15,500.00 of that total was for the Mother's attorney's fees in another matter and, therefore, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.