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[U] Fleegle v. Harkins

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 20, 2014

IRVIN B. FLEEGLE, JR., Appellee
v.
DAWN M. HARKINS, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order entered February 13, 2013, Court of Common Pleas, Bedford County, Civil Division at No. 305-S for 2006

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., DONOHUE and PLATT [*] , JJ.

MEMORANDUM

DONOHUE, J.

Dawn M. Harkins ("Mother") appeals from the order of court entered on February 13, 2013, denying her appeal de novo in the trial court and providing that the child support order dated September 24, 2012 stay in effect. For the following reasons, we affirm.

Mother and Irvin B. Fleegle, Jr. ("Father") are the parents of two children. Mother is the obligor of a child support obligation for their children. The trial court summarized the relevant factual history as follows:

On August 19, 2010 an order of support was entered which contained several tiers. The first tier directed [Mother] to pay $345.00 per month for the support of her two children; the second tier suspended the order from April 2, 2010 through June 7, 2010. Finally, effective June 7, 2010 and continuing until further order of court, [Mother] was to pay $36.58 for support of the two children. This figure was based on a minimum-wage earnings capacity for [Mother]. On August 13, 2012, the Plaintiff, [Father], filed a petition for modification. In his petition the Plaintiff stated, 'she has been working for some time now. Need to go back and adjust child support for went [sic] she started working, 2 years.' The conference order dated September 24, 2012 was given an effective date of October 12, 2010.
[Unhappy with this result, Mother filed a request for a hearing de novo before the trial court.] At the hearing on November 15, 2012, [Mother], conceded that she failed to report several substantial increases in income. [Mother] did not dispute that her net monthly income as a Certified Nurse[] Assistant was $1, 400.00 a month from October of 2010 to through July of 2012. Currently her net monthly income is $1, 175.00 a month. In her testimony, [Mother] said she was unaware that she was required to report increases on her income. [Mother] currently resides in the state of Indiana.
There also was testimony at the November 15, 2012 hearing that one of the children for whom [Mother] pays support is a son who was born December 25, 1992, and who is currently twenty years of age. The son is an autistic special needs student who is presently still enrolled in a life skills program operated by the Everett School District. In May of 2012 he participated in a graduation ceremony with his classmates, however, he will not receive his diploma until he completes all of his required credits; this is estimated to be June of 2014.

Trial Court Opinion, 2/11/13, at 1-2.

Following the hearing, the trial court entered an order denying the requests for relief raised by Mother in her de novo appeal to the September 24, 2012 support order. Trial Court Order, 2/11/13. Mother subsequently filed this appeal[1] and presents three issues for our review. In addressing these issues, we are mindful that

[w]hen evaluating a support order, this Court may only reverse the trial court's determination where the order cannot be sustained on any valid ground. We will not interfere with the broad discretion afforded the trial court absent an abuse of the discretion or insufficient evidence to sustain the support order. An abuse of discretion is not merely an error of judgment; if, in reaching a conclusion, the court overrides or misapplies the law, or the judgment exercised is shown by the record to be either manifestly unreasonable or the product of partiality, prejudice, bias or ill will, discretion has been abused. In addition, we note that the duty to support one's child is absolute, and the purpose of child support is to promote the child's best interests.

Mencer v. Ruch, 928 A.2d 294, 297 (Pa. Super. 2007) (citation omitted).

In her first issue, Mother argues that the trial court erred by modifying her support obligation beyond the date upon which Father filed his petition ...


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