Submitted March 24, 2014.
Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, Civil Division, No(s): 04-09396. Before PAGE, J.
Craig M. Kellerman, Norristown, for appellant.
Deborah G. Zitomer, Norristown, for appellee.
BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., LAZARUS, J., and WECHT, J. OPINION BY LAZARUS, J.
Jeffar Saidi (Husband) appeals from the order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County distributing the parties' marital property and awarding counsel fees to Dong Yuan Chen (Wife). After our review, we affirm in part and reverse in part.
The trial court set forth the facts underlying this appeal as follows:
This action began with the commencement of a Complaint in Divorce on May 5, 2004 and has a nine-year history with the filing of petitions in support, custody, contempt, and appeals. For purposes of this instant appeal, on February 6, 2013, a Master's Report, Decision and Judgment upon Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Counsel Fees and Costs was entered which recommended that judgment be entered in favor of [Wife] and against [Husband] in the amount of $30,382.50 ($5,000 of which was for attorneys' fees and costs). (Decision and Judgment Upon Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Counsel Fees and Costs, 2/6/13, p. 10). This award represented counsel fees to [Wife] and one-half of [Wife's] marital share. Id. at 9-10. Thereafter, on February 8, 2013, [Husband] filed timely exceptions to the Master's Report dated February 6, 2013. (Support Exceptions, 2/8/13).
On June 14, 2013, [the trial] court issued an order ruling that the parties' August
22, 2011, Agreed Order legally binds the parties to the Master's Report dated February 6, 2013 and that said Agreed Order was non-modifiable by [the trial] court. Subsequently, [the trial] court issued its above-mentioned July 25, 2013 Order and Decree in Divorce. In response to these orders filed on July 25, 2013, [Husband] filed a Motion for Reconsideration on August 2, 2013 arguing that [he had the right to file exceptions] despite the parties' Agreed Order, and that [the trial] court's imposition of attorneys' fees in favor of [Wife] was improper. In response, [the trial court] issued an Order ruling on [Husband's] Motion for Reconsideration on August 19, 2013 which denied said motion. However, [the trial court concluded] the parties were still bound to the terms of the Master's Report as a result of the August 22, 2011 Agreed Order.
Trial Court Opinion, 10/17/2013, at 1-2.
Husband filed a notice of appeal on August 19, 2013 and a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal on August 30, 2013. He raises the following three issues:
1) Did the trial court err as a matter of law or abuse its discretion when it determined that Husband, pursuant to the August 22, 2011 Agreed Order, had waived his right to take exceptions to the Equitable Distribution Master's Report dated February 6, 2013?
2) Did the trial court err or abuse its discretion when it awarded counsel fees to be paid by Husband pursuant to section 5339 of the Child Custody Act, 23 Pa.C.S. § 5339?
3) Did the Master in Equitable Distribution disregard Section 3501(a.1) of the Divorce Code, 23 Pa.C.S. § 3501(a.1), by failing to consider the substantial decrease in residential real estate values and instead used the 2004 date of separation value to determine Wife's share of the increase in value of the marital ...