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Morgan v. Morgan

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

May 28, 2015

SHERI A. MORGAN, Appellee
v.
DANIEL T. MORGAN, Appellant

Argued, January 27, 2015

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Franklin County, Civil Division, No: 2009-557. Before VAN HORN, J.

Anthony J. Vetrano, King of Prussia, for appellant.

John C. Howett, Jr., Harrisburg, for appellee.

BEFORE: MUNDY, STABILE, and FITZGERALD,[*] JJ. Judge

Page 758

OPINION

STABILE, J.

Appellant Daniel T. Morgan[1] (" Father" ) appeals from the July 21, 2014 order of the Court of Common Pleas of the 39th Judicial District, Franklin County Branch (" trial court" ), which denied Father's motion to strike the trial court's child support enforcement orders dated November 5, 2013, December 4, 2013 and June 4, 2014. Father moved to the strike the orders because he believed the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to order child support in connection with C.M., his un-emancipated and severely autistic adult son with Sheri A. Morgan (" Mother" ). Because we have resolved the central issue of subject matter jurisdiction in a prior appeal, we affirm the trial court's order and remand this matter to the court for calculation of counsel fees.

The facts and procedural history of this case are undisputed. As summarized by a prior panel of this Court:

In 2003, the parties were divorced in Maryland. In conjunction with the divorce, the parties entered into a property settlement agreement (" PSA" ), which provided, in relevant part, that Father would pay Mother alimony and child support. The PSA provided that Father's alimony obligation would remain fixed until July 1, 2007, after which either party could seek to modify the amount of the obligation. The PSA was incorporated into the divorce decree.
On May 3, 2007, Father registered the Maryland divorce decree and PSA in Franklin County. Almost immediately thereafter he filed a petition seeking to reduce his alimony obligation. In response, Mother filed a petition seeking to increase Father's alimony obligation. These filings initiated approximately four years of proceedings regarding Father's alimony obligation, including an appeal to this Court, our remand to the trial court for further evidentiary proceedings, and then a subsequent appeal.
In 2011, as the second appeal from the alimony proceedings was pending before this Court, Mother filed a support action because Father told her that he was going to cease paying child support for C.M. As part of the ensuing support proceedings, Father's employer submitted income information to the trial court that revealed that Father had been lying about his income and submitting falsified documents, including federal tax returns, to the trial court in connection with the alimony action.[2] It was later discovered that the tax returns Father produced in the support action--after

Page 759

his deceit in connection with the alimony proceedings had been discovered--were also falsified. The discovery of Father's fraud on the court led to a protracted discovery period. As a result, the parties did not appear before the trial court for a hearing on Mother's support petition until July 2012, with a second day of hearings held in September 2012. The trial court subsequently entered an order setting Father's child support obligation and providing that it would apply retroactively to May 3, 2007 (the date Father registered the parties' divorce decree and PSA in Franklin County) and requiring Father to pay $128,526 of Mother's counsel fees. In making the support award, the trial court assigned Mother an income of $92,500 and rejected Mother's claim for an upward deviation of 25% beyond the amount prescribed by the Child Support Guidelines because of the minimal custodial time Father has with C.M. On July 11, 2013,[3] the trial court amended this order to provide, inter alia, that Mother's earning capacity should be applied retroactively to May 3, 2007. Father timely appealed and Mother timely filed her cross-appeal.

Morgan v. Morgan, 2014 PA Super 176, 99 A.3d 554, 556 (Pa. Super. 2014) (footnotes omitted), appeals denied, 825 MAL 2014, 826 MAL 2014, 113 A.3d 280, (Pa. filed April 2, 2015). In his appeal before the prior panel, Father filed a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) statement of errors complained of on appeal, arguing that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enforce the parties' PSA with respect to the child support obligation.[4] Father also argued that the trial court lacked authority to modify child support, because the parties did not request modification.[5]

On September 5, 2013, while the parties' cross appeals were pending in this Court, Mother filed an " Omnibus Petition to Enforce the July 12, 2013 Order." Father responded to the petition. On November 5, 2013, the trial court issued an order, granting in part Mother's petition. Specifically, the trial court directed the Domestic Relations Division " to attach the wages of [Father] in an additional amount of two-thousand dollars ($2,000.00) per month effective the date of this ...


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