Appeal from the Order entered May 20, 2008, in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Domestic Relations, No. 99-17726; Pacses No. 849101063.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: McEWEN, P.J.E.
BEFORE: BENDER, SHOGAN, JJ., and McEWEN, P.J.E.
¶ 1 The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department, of Public Welfare (hereinafter DPW) has appealed from a Court of Common Pleas order that vacated a lien against proceeds that were due appellee, Earl R. Walker, Jr., from Allstate Insurance Company pursuant to the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit. We reverse.
¶ 2 The underlying facts of this case are not in dispute. On or about March 19, 2008, appellee, through his attorney, negotiated the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit that would have netted him the sum of $3,083.83. However, because appellee was on notice of a pre-existing claim asserted by DPW, due to prior welfare payments that had been issued for the benefit of appellee's child,*fn1 appellee's attorney notified the Office of the Philadelphia District Attorney, which served as counsel for DPW in such situations, of the existence of the settlement in the net amount of $3,083.83. The District Attorney then, on April 3, 2008, obtained a "non-distribution" order from the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia,*fn2 by the terms of which appellee's attorney was directed to hold the settlement proceeds in escrow. Appellee thereafter sought a hearing in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia in an effort to have the court vacate the non-distribution order. Following that hearing, and a "voluntary" agreement by appellee to pay mother the sum of $957.00 in satisfaction of an arrearage in court ordered support for the child, the trial court entered an order on May 20, 2008, releasing to appellee the sum of $2,126.83, the proceeds remaining from the settlement, and denying any distribution to DPW. This appeal followed.
¶ 3 DPW, in the brief filed in support of this appeal, raises the following questions for our review:
Whether the trial court erred in finding that the statutory lien in 23 Pa.C.S. § 4308.1 was the only method of enforcing a support order against a monetary award, thereafter striking the non-distribution order against appellee's monetary award before the Department [DPW] could seek enforcement of its support arrears through the open petitions for civil contempt?
Whether the trial court abused its discretion by ordering appellee to pay all of mother's arrears, but none of the arrears owed to the DPW, without any justification for the disproportionate distribution?
See: Brief of Appellant, p. 9.
¶ 4 The resolution of this appeal turns on the interplay between two statutory sections contained in the Support Chapter of the Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Title, namely sections 4305 and 4308.1.*fn3 Section 4305 provides, in relevant part:
4305. General administration of support matters
(a) Powers and duties.-Subject to any inconsistent general rules and to the supervision and direction of the court, the domestic relations section shall have the power and duty to:
(7) Make effective the orders of support ...