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C.T.E. v. D.S.E.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

July 26, 2019

C.T.E.
v.
D.S.E. Appellant D.S.E. Appellant
v.
C.T.E.

          Appeal from the Order Entered December 4, 2018 In the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County Domestic Relations at No(s): 2016-50628, 2016-50682, PACSES 241115910, PACSES 699115940

          BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., MURRAY, J., and STEVENS [*] , P.J.E.

          OPINION

          LAZARUS, J.

         D.S.E. ("Husband") appeals from the order, entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, denying his exceptions to the support order entered by the trial court on September 26, 2018. In accordance with our Supreme Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Walker, 185 A.3d 969 (Pa. 2018), we quash the appeal.[1]

         On May 4, 2016, C.T.E. ("Wife") filed a complaint for child support and alimony pendente lite at docket number 2016-50628.[2] On May 26, 2016, Husband filed a counterclaim for alimony pendente lite at docket number 2016-50682. Following a support conference held on May 26, 2016, the hearing officer entered two recommended orders: one dismissing Husband's claim for alimony pendente lite and another requiring Husband to pay child support to Wife in the amount of $545.80 per month.

         Husband filed a demand for a hearing at both docket numbers. On July 11, 2016, in response to a motion filed by Wife, the trial court entered an order designating as complex the matter at docket number 2016-50682.[3] On October 19, 2016, Wife filed a motion to compel discovery at docket number 2016-50682. By order dated November 16, 2016, the trial court granted that motion and ordered Husband to "completely and without objection answer [Wife's] discovery requests within twenty (20) days ... or be subject to sanctions upon further application to [the court]." Trial Court Order, Docket No. 2016-50682, 11/16/16. On December 15, 2016, Wife filed a motion for sanctions, alleging that Husband's discovery production "remains so incomplete as to be effectively non-responsive[.]" Motion to Compel, Docket No. 2016-50682, 12/15/16. By order dated January 6, 2017, the trial court granted Wife's motion, awarding Wife attorney's fees, costs and expenses in the amount of $1, 050.00 and deeming Husband's income for purposes of the support actions at $4, 388.00 per month.

         After a hearing held on February 22, 2017, the court entered two orders on March 2, 2017. The first, at docket number 2016-50682, dismissed Husband's petition for alimony pendente lite, effective May 26, 2016. The other order, at docket number 2016-50628, directed Husband to pay child support in the monthly sum of $1, 232.00, plus arrearages, effective May 4, 2016. On March 21, 2017, Husband filed exceptions at both docket numbers. On June 13, 2017, by orders entered at both docket numbers, the trial court overruled Husband's exceptions.

         On July 10, 2017, Husband filed a notice of appeal to this Court. By memorandum decision dated March 27, 2018, we affirmed in part and vacated in part, remanding to the trial court "for the limited purpose of allowing the trial court to clarify whether the income specified for Husband in the January 2017 discovery sanction order was gross or net and to allow any necessary recalculation of the child support award as a result of that clarification." C.T.E. v. D.S.E., 1107 MDA 2017 (Pa. Super, filed 3/27/18) (unpublished memorandum decision). On May 10, 2018, [4] the trial court entered orders at both docket numbers remanding the matter to the master for a determination in accordance with this Court's directive.

         On May 29, 2018, Wife filed a motion at docket number 2016-50628 seeking modification of the existing support order because her income had "substantially decreased." Petition for Modification of an Existing Support Order, Docket No. 2016-50628, 5/29/18, at ¶ 4. On June 25, 2018, the master issued an order recommending that the petition for modification be dismissed, as the remand clarification addressing "the same matter and time frame" remained pending. Order, Docket No. 2016-50628, 6/25/18. Wife filed a request for a hearing de novo, to be consolidated with the remand proceedings. On July 25, 2018, the court granted that request. A hearing was held on August 30, 2018 and the parties thereafter submitted proposed finding of fact and conclusions of law.

         On September 26, 2018, the court issued an order, filed at both docket numbers, directing Husband to pay Wife the sum of $1, 149.00 per month in child support and dismissing Husband's request for alimony pendente lite. The order was based upon the recommendation of the master, who found Husband's monthly net income to be $4, 388.00. Husband filed exceptions to the master's report and recommendation on October 15, 2018, which the court overruled by order dated December 4, 2018, filed at both docket numbers.

         On January 3, 2019, Husband filed a single, timely notice of appeal listing both docket numbers, followed by a court-ordered Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) concise statement of errors complained of on appeal.

         Prior to reviewing the merits of Husband's appeal, we must address the fact that he filed a single notice of appeal from an order resolving issues relating to two different docket numbers. The Official Note to Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 341 provides as follows:

Where . . . one or more orders resolves issues arising on more than one docket or relating to more than one judgment, separate notices of appeals must be filed. Commonwealth v. C.M.K.,932 A.2d 111, 113 & n.3 (Pa. Super. 2007) (quashing appeal taken by single notice of appeal from order on remand for ...

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