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Uveges v. Uveges

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

November 5, 2014

BETTY UVEGES, Appellee
v.
SAMUEL L. UVEGES, Appellant

 Argued, October 21, 2014

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Greene County, Civil Division, No(s): A.D. No. 1333, 2009. Before NALITZ, J.

Stephen P. Moschetta, Washington, for appellant.

Adam J. Belletti, Waynesburg, for appellee.

BEFORE: BOWES, ALLEN, and STRASSBURGER,[*] JJ.

OPINION

Page 826

 ALLEN, J.

In this appeal, we decide whether Betty Uveges (" Wife" ) may attach the disability benefits of Samuel L. Uveges (" Husband" ), pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (" LHWCA" ), 33 U.S.C. § 901, et seq. We affirm the trial court's determination that Husband's disability benefits may be attached to pay Husband's alimony obligation.

The trial court summarized the pertinent facts and procedural history as follows:

[The parties] were married on June 3, 1972, in Greene County, Pennsylvania. A divorce complaint was filed December 10, 2009. On January 21, 2010, [the parties] entered into an Agreement that expressed the " desire and intention of the parties . . . to amicably adjust, compromise and settle all property rights, and all rights in and to or against the property or estate of the other . . . and to settle all disputes existing between them." According to Paragraph 6 of the Agreement, Husband would pay to Wife the sum [of] $2,500.00 per month for permanent alimony, modifiable only by remarriage, cohabitation, or the receipt by Wife of social security disability payments. The divorce became final on August 1, 2011.
On February 15, 2012, Wife filed a petition to enforce the agreement alleging Husband's failure to make any of the required alimony payments after January 1, 2012. Following a hearing, we entered an order on April 10, 2012, which among other things provided for the attachment of Husband's monthly benefits under the [LHWCA]. We also found Husband in contempt and issued a bench warrant.
On May 4, 2012, a petition for special relief was filed by Consolidated Coal Company [(" Consol" )], Husband's previous employer, which claimed that benefits payable to beneficiaries under the [LHWCA] are exempt from attachment. On October 26, 2012, we entered another order providing for other means of enforcement, such as attachment of Husband's

Page 827

UMWA pension benefits and social security benefits. We also entered an award for counsel fees. Part of the order vacated the portion of the April 10, 2012 order that called for attachment of Husband's [LHWCA] benefits. On May 10, 2013, we entered yet another enforcement order authorizing the transfer to Wife of certain real property awarded to Husband by the Agreement.
On September 27, 2013, represented by new counsel, Wife filed another motion for contempt, again asking for attachment of Husband's [LHWCA] benefits. We scheduled a hearing for December 2, 2013, after which we requested briefs. After review of those briefs and after consideration of the applicable law, we concluded on January 15, 2014 that the law permits an ex-spouse in Wife's position to attach the [LHWCA] retirement or disability benefits of an ex-husband who has been found to be in contempt. Husband ...

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