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Leicht v. Leicht

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

May 30, 2017

DAVID LEE LEICHT Appellant
v.
PATRICIA DENISE LEICHT Appellee

         Appeal from the Order Entered June 2, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas of York County Civil Division at No(s): 2010 FC 000182-2015

          BEFORE: BOWES, J., LAZARUS, J., and MUSMANNO, J.

          OPINION

          LAZARUS, J.

         David Leicht (Husband) appeals from the order, entered in the Court of Common Pleas of York County, granting in part and denying in part Patricia Leicht's (Wife) exceptions to the master's report and recommendation. Husband claims the trial court order requiring him to pay alimony indefinitely was an abuse of discretion. After our review, we affirm.

         The parties were married in 1988, and they separated in 2006. The court entered a divorce decree on June 2, 2016. The parties have three adult children, one of whom lives with Wife during college breaks and summer.

         Both parties were age 50 at the time of the hearing before the divorce master, which was held on March 24, 2015. We summarize the master's findings as follows:

         Both parties graduated from York Technical School. Husband has worked in manufacturing jobs since the mid-1980s, and works as a press operator, earning approximately $44, 000.00 gross income annually. Husband has medical benefits through his employment, and he participates in a 401(k) retirement plan. Husband is in good health. He lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his girlfriend, where he pays rent of $550 each month. Husband's girlfriend pays utilities.

         Mother is a certified Licensed Practical Nurse. Although she worked until 2009, she suffered from a variety of mental issues throughout the marriage. Her condition deteriorated in 2009, and she was hospitalized on two occasions in 2010. She is currently being treated by a psychiatrist, receives counseling regularly, and takes various medications to treat anxiety, depression and various physical conditions, including congestive heart failure and diabetes. Wife has been on disability for approximately four years, and currently receives disability benefits in the amount of $1, 117 per month (net of Medicare Part B premium of $105 per month). Wife also receives $585.58 each month in spousal support. She lives in a one-bedroom apartment and pays rent of $1, 010 each month, including utilities.

         Upon separation, the parties had minimal marital property. The marital home went into foreclosure shortly after separation. The master found Wife has no earning capacity at present and that her situation was unlikely to change in the future. The master found no marital misconduct.

         The master recommended that Husband continue paying Wife $585.58 per month through September 30, 2016 (as alimony pendente lite, to convert to alimony upon entry of final divorce decree on June 2, 2016). The master also recommended Husband pay $600 towards Wife's counsel fees, payable in monthly installments of $50 over one year following entry of the final divorce decree. In the report and recommendation, the master suggested Wife consider subsidized housing and government benefits for low-income and disabled persons, as well as a "representative payee" to assist her in managing financially on her budget. Wife filed exceptions.

         On August 26, 2015, the trial court granted Wife's exceptions, in part, and entered an order requiring Husband continue alimony payments to Wife indefinitely. See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3701(c) ("The court in ordering alimony shall determine the duration of the order, which may be for a definite or an indefinite period of time which is reasonable under the circumstances."). Husband appealed. He raises one issue for our review:

Did the trial judge abuse his discretion in reversing the recommendation of the Divorce Master[, ] who recommended a limited period of alimony[, ] and instead imposed a lifetime obligation

Appellant's Brief, at 2.

         An award of alimony may be reversed "where there is an apparent abuse of discretion or there is insufficient evidence to support the award." Balicki v. Balicki, 4 A.3d 654, 659 (Pa. Super. 2010), ...


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