Judges Opinions Public Notices, — August 12, 2020 16:28 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, August 12, 2020

Volume 58, No. 2

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

FICTITIOUS NAME

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

CERTIFICATE OF ORGANIZATION

ESTATE/TRUST NOTICE

PETITION FOR LEAVE OF COURT

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Enjie Mohamed Zaitoun v. Mohamed F. Omar

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Letters Testamentary or of Administration have been granted in the following estates. All persons indebted to the said estate are required to make payment, and those having claims or demands to present the same without delay to the administrators or executors named.

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF EMMA B. LUDWIG, late of Union Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Robin M. Rueppel, Executor

ESTATE OF EMMA B. LUDWIG

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF EVA M COLYER, late of East Hanover Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Carol Ann Markle, Executrix

ESTATE OF EVA M. COLYER

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF JOAN L. BERNHARDT, late of Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Rain Buck, Executor

ESTATE OF JOAN L. BERNHARDT

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF ROBERT R. HALL, late of West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Kevin S. Hall, Co-Executor

Christopher S. Hall, Co-Executor

James K. Noel, IV, Esquire

McNees, Wallace & Nurick LLC

570 Lausch Lane, Suite 200

Lancaster, PA 17601

 

ESTATE OF ARLINE L. RENTSCHLER, late of Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

  1. Mark Rentschler, Administrator

3323 Kutztown Road

Reading, PA 19605

 

Robert R. Kreitz, Esquire

Kreitz | Gallen-Schutt

1210 Broadcasting Road, Suite 103

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

ESTATE OF BENJAMIN R. MARTINEZ, late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Benjamin A. Martinez, Executor

30 Oxford Drive

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Horace Ehrgood, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF CARL W. SERFASS, late of the Borough of Palmyra, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Linda L. Missimer, Executrix

David M. Laucks, Esquire

Laucks & Laucks, PC

105 West Broadway

Red Lion, PA 17356

 

ESTATE OF FERDINAND J. SAMMER, late of Swatara Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Cindy J. Sammer, Executrix

Patrick M. Reb, Esquire

547 S. 10th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF BARBARA V. GRECO, late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Charles A. Greco, Executor

Estate of Barbara V. Greco

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF ELLA H. WEAVER a/k/a ELLA HORST WEAVER, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Richard W. Weaver, Executor

Patrick A. Deibler, Esquire

Kling and Deibler, LLP

131 W. Main Street

New Holland, PA 17557

 

ESTATE OF GLORIA J. GUERRISI, late of the city of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Michael Edward Guerrisi

404 Park Drive

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Edward J. Coyle, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

PO Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF BRADLEY P. SMITH, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Sharon M. Smith, Administratrix

Jon F. Arnold, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF ELLA H. WEAVER a/k/a ELLA HORST WEAVER, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Richard W. Weaver, Executor

Patrick A. Deibler, Esquire

Kling and Deibler, LLP

131 W. Main Street

New Holland, PA 17557

 

ESTATE OF GLORIA J. GUERRISI, late of the city of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Michael Edward Guerrisi

404 Park Drive

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Edward J. Coyle, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

PO Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF BRADLEY P. SMITH, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Sharon M. Smith, Administratrix

Jon F. Arnold, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF ELAINE R. SHANFELDER, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Jon Guy Shanfelder, Executor

350 Valley View Road

Myerstown PA 17067

 

Paul W. Kilgore, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore, & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF MARY M. WHITE, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor

 

Claude W. White, Executor

Patrick M. Reb, Esquire

547 South 10th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF PETER J. SEABOLD a/k/a PETER JAMES SEABOLD, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix

 

Barbara A. Seabold, Executrix

Patrick M. Reb, Esquire

547 South 10th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF  RUTH A. KUGLER a/k/a RUTH ANN KUGLER, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, have been granted to refore indebted to said estate are requested to make immediate payment, and those having just claims will please present the same, duly authenticated, for settlement without delay.

Melody A. Hoelzle, Executrix

Estate of RUTH A. KUGLER

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA  17042

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF MILDRED S. WELCH, a/k/a MILLIE WELCH, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Sharon Kissinger, Executrix

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

PO Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF JEILIANNETTE M. JUSTINIANO RODRIGUEZ, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Albert Justianiano Irizarry, Administrator

928 West Princess Street, Apt. 3

York, PA 17401

 

Thomas j. Pivnicny, Esquire

Kitay Law Offices

1258 Penn Avenue

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

ESTATE OF ALFRED L. SEYBOLD, late of West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Gary A. Seybold, Executor

565 Fox Bay Rd

Loris, SC 29569

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 S. 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF HELEN J. MAYS, late of Myerstown Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Donna J. Kintzer, Co-Executrix

139 N. Hoover Street

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Leonard R. Mays, Co-Executor

7641 Lancaster Avenue

Mt. Aetna, PA 19544

 

Debra A. Haag, Co-Executrix

441 Stracks Dam Road

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner and Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF RUSSELL D. BOOZEL, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executrices.

 

Melinda L. Weaber, Co-Executrix

Melody O. Thomas, Co-Executrix

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

PO Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF ESTHER O. LOWERY, late of Myerstown Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Kendra Hays, Executrix

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

PO Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF DOROTHY J. EINWECHTER, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

William O. Einwechter, Executor

James N. Clymer, Esquire

Clymer Musser & Sarno, PC

408 West Chestnut Street

Lancaster, PA 17603

 

ESTATE OF SAMUEL BELLAMAN, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Tammy S. Bentley, Co-Executrix

Richard Bellaman, Co-Executor

5387 Bossler Road

Elizabethtown, PA 17022

 

Edward P. Seeber, Esquire

JSDC Law Offices

11 East Chocolate Avenue, Suite 300

Hershey, PA 17033

 

FICTITIOUS NAME

 

An application for registration of the fictitious name Next Level Barber Studio, 908 Cumberland St., Lebanon, PA 17042 has been filed in the Department of State at Harrisburg, PA, File Date 6/25/2020 pursuant to the Fictitious Names Act, Act 1982-295. The name and address of the person who is a party to the registration is Orlando Llinas, 1702 Center St, Lebanon, PA 17042 and William T Read, 1008 S 2nd Ave, Lebanon, PA 17042.

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

 

E2 Dog Training, Inc., hereby gives notice that articles of incorporation have been filed with

the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, under the provisions of the

Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law of 1988, approved December 21, 1988, P.L. 1444,

No. 177, effective October 1, 1989, as amended. The purpose for which the corporation is

organized is to provide dog training services in Lebanon County and the surrounding areas.

 

CERTIFICATE OF ORGANIZATION

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Certificate of Organization was filed with the Corporation Bureau of the Pennsylvania Department of State, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for the purpose of forming a domestic business corporation under the Pennsylvania Uniform Limited Liability Company Act of 2016 (P.L. 1328, No. 170), 15 Pa. C. S. A. §8811 et. seq. as amended.  The purpose of the corporation is to process CBD, and to engage in any other lawful business a corporation may engage in. The name and address of the corporation is: Purely Rosin, LLC, 42 West Main Street, Palmyra, PA 17078. Ernest J. Woolever, Esq. 42 West Main Street Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE/TRUST NOTICE

 

ESTATE OF CATHERINE M. SCHOTT, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix/Trustee. Notice of the death of Catherine M. Schott, Surviving Settlor of the Raymond L. Schott and Catherine M. Schott Revocable Living Trust, u/d/t 3/8/2000, is also hereby given. All persons indebted to said Estate and/or Trust are requested to make prompt payment and those having claims to present the same, without delay to:

 

Lori A. Ceresini, Executrix/Trustee

David A. Peckman, Esquire

Peckman Chait LLP

29 Mainland Road

Harleysville, PA 19438

 

PETITION FOR LEAVE OF COURT

 

YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that the Jackson Township Board of Supervisors has filed a Petition for Leave of Court to sell Lot 107, Wheatland Manor, Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. This filing can be viewed in the Lebanon County Orphans’ Court at Docket No. 2020-455. A hearing is scheduled for August 27, 2020 at 10:00 am in Courtroom 3 of the Lebanon County Courthouse located at 400 South 8th Street, Lebanon PA 17042. Any resident or group consisting of residents of the Township have the right to file a protest, and in the discretion of the Court may be heard individually or through counsel, or to intervene in such an action and be a party thereto.

Secretary

Jackson Township

 

JUDGES OPINION

Enjie Mohamed Zaitoun v. Mohamed F. Omar

 

Civil Action-Family Law-Spousal Support-Child Support-Talaq Divorce-Obligation to Pay Spousal Support-Comity-Due Process-Notice-Ability to be Heard-Earning Capacity-Basis for Modification of Support-Substantial Change in Circumstances-COVID-19

 

Defendant filed Exceptions to the Order adopting the Report and Recommendation of the Domestic Relations Master requiring him to pay spousal and child support to Plaintiff.  In his Exceptions, Defendant asserts that he is not required to pay Plaintiff spousal support because he had obtained an Islamic divorce known as talaq from Plaintiff in North Carolina, the Domestic Relations Master erred in imputing earning capacities to the parties and modification of support  is warranted based upon the change of circumstances posed by COVID-19.

 

  1. In Islamic sharia tradition, talaq can be used by any husband to obtain an instant divorce from his wife that will be granted if the husband utters to or about his wife the word “talaq” three (3) times in succession.

 

  1. In most Islamic countries, talaq does not release the husband from all financial responsibilities the husband owes to a wife.

 

  1. The American tradition of justice always has prized the notion of due process that fundamentally affords any party to a dispute notice and the opportunity to be heard.

 

  1. The doctrine of comity requires courts to recognize foreign judicial decrees that lawfully were created in the jurisdiction where they were entered.

 

  1. Pennsylvania affords comity to foreign decrees, but only when those decrees were entered respecting fundamental notions of due process.

 

  1. Defendant is not immune from payment of spousal support based upon the talaq divorce procured by Defendant where North Carolina did not enjoy jurisdiction over Plaintiff, the talaq divorce was not registered in or recognized by the Courts of North Carolina, both parties are American citizens and there is no evidence that Plaintiff received notice of or was afforded an opportunity to be heard with regard to the talaq.

 

  1. The general rule in Pennsylvania is that support should be based upon actual earnings.

 

  1. Assignment of an earning capacity to a party is appropriate where an individual stubbornly refuses to obtain appropriate employment or a party has displayed a consistent lifestyle that transcends that party’s actual claimed earnings.

 

  1. The DMR appropriately assessed the parties’ earning capacities in light of Defendant’s superior age, education, prior work experience as a humans relations analyst for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and English proficiency, which equates to a potential for earnings for Defendant that far transcends the capacity of Plaintiff, who required use of an interpreter and had worked part-time at a high school cafeteria.

 

  1. In light of the fact that the parties have not been working since the COVID-19 pandemic in mid March of 2020, remand is warranted for determination of the parties’ income retroactive to April 1, 2020.

 

  1. All COVID-19 related modification petitions should be entertained, even in cases that recently have been decided, as long as the threshold of the existence of a substantial change in circumstances has been established by the petitioner.

 

  1. In determining whether modification should be undertaken based upon changes in circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the court should consider the extent to which the pandemic affected the parties’ incomes, the extent to which the parties were able to mitigate income lost with governmental benefits, the manner in which the pandemic affected the parties’ childcare expenses and custody arrangements, the manner in which the pandemic affected the job environment in Lebanon County and whether the parties have been exposed to or tested positive for the coronavirus.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. 2018-50818, Opinion by Bradford H. Charles, Judge, May 20, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL ACTION – FAMILY DIVISION

 

          ENJIE MOHAMED ZAITOUN             :         NO. 2018-5-0818

Plaintiff                                           :         PACSES NO. 079116224

:

  1. :

MOHAMED F. OMAR                         :

Defendant                                       :

:

:        CHILD SUPPORT AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT

 

 

ORDER OF COURT

 

AND NOW, this 20th day of May, 2020, upon consideration of the exceptions filed by Mohamed Omar (hereafter HUSBAND), after review of the file and in accordance with the attached Opinion, the Order of this Court is as follows:

  1. HUSBAND’s exceptions are DENIED and the Order of this Court is as follows:

This Order shall be effective February 1, 2020.                  

For the months of February and March, 2020, the amount of support to be paid by Defendant is $620.29 per month for two children, Faris Farouk Omar and Gannah Farouk Omar and $589.01 for spousal support for Enjie Mohamed Zaitoun, plus $62.03 per month on arrears for Faris Farouk Omar and Gannah Farouk Omar and $58.90 per month on arrears for Enjie Mohamed Zaitoun.

Effective April 1, 2020, DEFENDANT shall continue to pay $620.29 in child support plus $589.01 in spousal support subject to any retroactive modifications recommended by the DRM or ordered by this Court.  So long as DEFENDANT pays at least $1,000.00 per month total support after April 1, 2020, he is not to be listed for a contempt proceeding.

The amount to be paid for each dependent and obligation amount is allocated as follows:

AMOUNT/FREQUENCY  OBLIGATION TYPE                  BENEFICIARY

_$310.14 _/_month_                _Child support _  _ Faris Farouk Omar _

_$31.01 _/_month_                  _arrears _   _ Faris Farouk Omar _

_$310.15 _/_month_                _Child support _  _ Gannah Farouk Omar _

_$31.02 _/_month_                  _arrears _   _ Gannah Farouk Omar _

_$589.01 _/_month_                _Spousal support _ Enjie Mohamed Zaitoun

_$58.90 _/_month_                  _arrears _   _ Enjie Mohamed Zaitoun _

 

Arrears are due in full IMMEDIATELY.  All terms of this Order are subject to collection and/or enforcement by contempt proceedings, credit bureau reporting, tax refund offset certification, driver’s license revocation, and the freeze and seizure of financial assets.  These enforcement/collection mechanisms will not be initiated so long as Obligor does not owe overdue support.  Failure to make each payment on time and in full will cause all arrears to become subject to immediate collection by all the means listed above.

The monthly support obligation includes cash medical support in the amount of $250 annually for un-reimbursed medical expenses incurred for each child and/or spouse.  Un-reimbursed medical expenses of Obligee or children that exceed $250 annually shall be allocated between the parties.  The party seeking allocation of the un-reimbursed medical expenses must provide documentation of the expenses to the other party no later than March 31st of the following calendar year in which the final medical bill to be allocated was received.  The un-reimbursed medical expenses are to be paid as follows:  _55_% by Defendant and _45_% by Plaintiff.  ____Defendant _X__ Plaintiff ____Neither party is to provide medical coverage __ .

IT IS ORDERED THAT (ITEMS CHECKED BELOW APPLY):

__ ___The defendant is ordered to cover the dependent(s) with health care coverage whenever it is available at a reasonable cost which shall be defined as a cost that does not exceed 5% of defendant’s net monthly income and does not exceed 50% of defendants net monthly income when added to the basic child support plus additional expenses,.

__X___Health care coverage is currently not available at a reasonable cost to defendant.  Therefore, plaintiff is ordered apply for/continue government-sponsored coverage, such as Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  The cost of said coverage shall not exceed 5% of plaintiff’s net monthly income.

_____Health care coverage is currently not available at a reasonable cost to defendant.  Therefore, plaintiff is ordered to cover the dependent(s) with health care coverage if it is available at a reasonable cost which shall be defined as a cost that does not exceed 5% of plaintiff’s net income.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED:

Within 30 days after the entry of this order, the party ordered to provide health care  coverage shall provide written proof to the Lebanon County Domestic Relations Office and the other party that medical insurance has been obtained, including insurance cards and any other material necessary to utilize the coverage.

If Health Insurance is currently unavailable to the party/parties ordered to provide it, such proof shall be provided to Lebanon County Domestic Relations within 7 days of the date of this order.

If Health Insurance coverage is now available or becomes available to the party/parties ordered to provide it, the party/parties shall provide proof of the cost to Lebanon County Domestic Relations within 7 days of the date of availability.

  1. _____DEFENDANT _____PLAINTIFF SHALL PAY THE FOLLOWING FEES:  

FEE TOTAL FEE DESCRIPTION                  PAYMENT FREQUENCY

__$_/ once_          _ __                                          _$_PER _once__

________/___        __________________     _________PER __________

 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS:

___X____All other provisions from the court order dated __December 18, 2019_, not affected by this order, shall remain in full force and effect.

This case shall be reviewed in four (4) months.

This case shall be remanded to the DRM for a re-evaluation of the parties’ circumstances since April 1, 2020.

Any money collected pursuant to this Order shall be paid by Pennsylvania State Collection & Disbursement Unit to Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s assignee, or as designated, by other Order of Court.  Said money to be turned over by the Pennsylvania State Collection & Disbursement Unit to Plaintiff, Plaintiff’s assignee, or as designated, by other Order of Court.

Within thirty (30) days after the entry of this Order, the party or parties providing insurance shall submit to the person having custody of the child(ren) written proof that medical insurance coverage has been obtained or that application for coverage has been made.  Proof of coverage shall consist, at a minimum, of: 1) the name of the health care coverage provider(s); 2) any applicable identification numbers; 3) any cards evidencing coverage; 4) the address to which claims should be made; 5) a description of any restrictions on usage, such as prior approval for hospital admissions, and the manner of obtaining approval; 6) a copy of the benefit booklet or coverage contract; 7) a description of all deductibles and co-payments; and 8) five copies of any claim forms.

Payments must be made by check or money order.  All checks and money orders must be made payable to Pennsylvania State Collection & Disbursement Unit and mailed to P.O. Box 69110, Harrisburg, PA 17106-9110.  Each payment must bear your social security number and member number in order to be processed.

IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE

PARTIES MUST WITHIN SEVEN DAYS INFORM THE DOMESTIC RELATIONS SECTION AND THE OTHER PARTIES, IN WRITING, OF ANY MATERIAL CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES RELEVANT TO THE LEVEL OF SUPPORT OR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE SUPPORT ORDER, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOSS OR CHANGE OF INCOME OR EMPLOYMENT AND CHANGE OF PERSONAL ADDRESS OR CHANGE OF ADDRESS OF ANY CHILD RECEIVING SUPPORT. A PARTY WHO WILLFULLY FAILS TO REPORT A MATERIAL CHANGE IN CIRCUMSTANCES MAY BE ADJUDGED IN CONTEMPT OF COURT, AND MAY BE FINED OR IMPRISONED.

 

PENNSYLVANIA LAW PROVIDES THAT ALL SUPPORT ORDERS SHALL BE REVIEWED AT LEAST ONCE EVERY THREE (3) YEARS IF SUCH REVIEW IS REQUESTED BY ONE OF THE PARTIES. IF YOU WISH TO REQUEST A REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT OF YOUR ORDER, YOU MUST DO THE FOLLOWING: CALL YOUR ATTORNEY. AN UNREPRESENTED PERSON WHO WANTS TO MODIFY (ADJUST) A SUPPORT ORDER SHOULD CONTACT THE DOMESTIC RELATIONS SECTION.

 

ALL CHARGING ORDERS FOR SPOUSAL SUPPORT AND ALIMONY PENDENTE LITE, INCLUDING UNALLOCATED ORDERS FOR CHILD AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT OR CHILD SUPPORT AND ALIMONY PENDENTE LITE, SHALL TERMINATE UPON DEATH OF THE PAYEE.

 

A MANDATORY INCOME ATTACHMENT WILL ISSUE UNLESS THE DEFENDANT IS NOT IN ARREARS IN PAYMENT IN AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO OR GREATER THAN ONE MONTH’S SUPPORT OBLIGATION AND (1) THE COURT FINDS THAT THERE IS GOOD CAUSE NOT TO REQUIRE IMMEDIATE INCOME WITHHOLDING; OR (2) A WRITTEN AGREEMENT IS REACHED BETWEEN THE PARTIES WHICH PROVIDES FOR AN ALTERNATE ARRANGEMENT.

 

UNPAID ARREARS BALANCES MAY BE REPORTED TO CREDIT AGENCIES. ON AND AFTER THE DATE IT IS DUE, EACH UNPAID SUPPORT PAYMENT SHALL CONSTITUTE, BY OPERATRION OF LAW, A JUDGEMENT AGAINST YOU, AS WELL AS A LIEN AGAINST REAL PROPERTY.

 

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, upon payer’s failure to comply with this order, payer may be arrested and brought before the Court for a Contempt hearing; payer’s wages, salary, commissions, and/or income may be attached in accordance with law; this Order will be increased without further hearing by 10 % a month until all arrearages are paid in full.  Defendant is responsible for court costs and fees.

 

 

 

 

 

BY THE COURT:

 

 

 

BRADFORD H. CHARLES

 

 

BHC/pmd

 

cc:     Domestic Relations

Enjie Mohamed Zaitoun// Unit 104, 500 Weavertown Road, Lebanon PA 17046

Mohamed Frarouk Omar

Timothy Engler, Esq.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL ACTION – FAMILY DIVISION

 

 

ENJIE MOHAMED ZAITOUN                       :         NO. 2018-5-0818

Plaintiff                                           :         PACSES NO. 079116224

:

  1. :

MOHAMED F. OMAR                                   :

Defendant                                         :

:

:        CHILD SUPPORT AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT

APPEARANCES

 

John Gragson, Esquire                   For Plaintiff

Domestic Relations Office

 

Timothy Engler, Esquire                            for Defendant

OPINION BY CHARLES, J., May 20, 2020

 

Today, we consider for the first time how the coronavirus pandemic will impact the paradigms governing support litigation within Lebanon County.  Coincidentally, this case will also require us to evaluate the interesting question of whether courts in Pennsylvania are required to honor the Islamic divorce practice of talaq.  For reasons we will articulate in more detail below, we will affirm the decision of the Domestic Relations Master (DRM) that considered the parties to remain married notwithstanding HUSBAND’s efforts to procure a talaq divorce.  However, we will be remanding this case for a de novo consideration by the DRM of everything that has occurred with the parties since April 1, 2020.

 

  1. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

 

Mohamed Omar (hereafter HUSBAND) and Enjie Zaitoun (hereafter WIFE) grew up, met and were married in the country of Egypt[1].  The record is not clear about when, how or why the parties emigrated to the United States.  However, documentation was presented that the parties obtained legal resident status and that both eventually became U.S. citizens.  (See, Exhibit 6).  Together, HUSBAND and WIFE have two (2) children, ages ten (10) and eleven (11) years old.

Prior to the parties’ separation in 2019, WIFE worked at the Henry Houck Elementary School cafeteria in Lebanon.  She earned $11.20 per hour for a twenty-five (25) hour work week.  HUSBAND worked as a human relations analyst for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and earned almost $2,000.00 bi-weekly.

Separation occurred in 2019 when WIFE filed a Protection from Abuse (PFA) against HUSBAND.  Although the PFA was subsequently withdrawn by WIFE, HUSBAND did spend four (4) days in the Lebanon County Prison as a result of a violation.  HUSBAND testified to the Domestic Relations Master (DRM) that he was disciplined by his employer due to the PFA.

Following separation, custody litigation ensued before the Honorable Charles T. Jones, Jr. of this Court.  Judge Jones crafted a shared custody arrangement whereby the children spent slightly more time with their mother than with their father[2].

Child and spousal support litigation also ensued and a hearing was conducted before a DRM.  On October 28, 2019, a DRM issued findings of fact that included the following:

  • The parties were married in Egypt in 2007.
  • WIFE studied computer science in college in Egypt, but she did not graduate. HUSBAND possessed a college degree.
  • WIFE moved to America in 2008. Despite living in the United States for eleven (11) years, she still required an interpreter.
  • For most of the marriage, WIFE worked primarily as a homemaker.
  • HUSBAND previously married an American “to obtain his U.S. citizenship.” When he achieved citizenship status, he divorced his American wife.  He then met and married WIFE.  HUSBAND indicated to the DRM that the purpose of this marriage was to enable WIFE to obtain United States citizenship.
  • HUSBAND had another child in Egypt for whom he was required to pay child support equivalent to twelve (12) U.S. dollars per month. WIFE did not know about HUSBAND’s other child.
  • WIFE described HUSBAND as “emotionally, verbally and physically abusive” throughout the marriage. WIFE testified that two prior PFA petitions were filed, but she was forced to withdraw these prior PFAs “under pressure from cultural leaders.”  HUSBAND characterized WIFE’s claims of abuse as “manipulative” and accused her of using these allegations to “extort” money from him.
  • HUSBAND apparently undertook an Islamic “divorce” from WIFE both in 2016 and 2017. On both occasions, he rescinded the divorce.

As a result of all the testimony presented, the DRM determined that HUSBAND’s behavior towards WIFE was “controlling and unsettling”.  The DRM determined that WIFE’s desire to live separate and apart from HUSBAND was “not capricious or on a whim.”  Therefore, the DRM determined that WIFE was entitled to spousal support.

Based upon HUSBAND’s earning with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and WIFE’s less significant income, the DRM recommended that HUSBAND pay $866 per month in child support plus an additional $566 per month in spousal support.  HUSBAND filed exceptions to the DRM’s decision[3].  On December 18, 2019, this Court denied HUSBAND’s exceptions and affirmed the decision of the DRM.

Shortly after the decision rendered by this Court, HUSBAND filed a Petition for Modification.  He sought a dismissal of spousal support due to a divorce decree that had been entered by an Imam in North Carolina.  The document was entitled “Islamic Divorce Consent” and was signed by an Imam located in Smithfield, North Carolina.  There was no proof that WIFE received notice or an opportunity to participate in the so-called “divorce”.

In addition to the divorce issue, HUSBAND indicated that he had left his job at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania due to stress caused by his “failing domestic life” and his obligation to provide care to his children.  HUSBAND took a lower paying job as a long-term substitute math teacher with the Lebanon School District.

A hearing was conducted before a DRM on February 20, 2020.  As a result of that hearing, the DRM declined to recognize HUSBAND’s “divorce” and declared that the parties remained married for purposes of spousal support.  The DRM then assigned an earning capacity to both parents.  The DRM issued a decision recommending a two-tiered order.  Effective February 10, 2020, the DRM recommended that HUSBAND pay $620 per month in child support plus an additional $589 per month in spousal support.  The DRM also prospectively recommended that the amounts be lowered in June of 2020.

HUSBAND filed exceptions.  In addition to his reliance upon the so-called Islamic “divorce” as a defense to spousal support, he also claimed that the DRM erred by assessing an earning capacity and by failing to consider his significant period of shared custody.  We will begin by addressing HUSBAND’s effort to rely upon his Islamic divorce.  Thereafter, we will discuss the issues of earning capacity and shared custody.

 

  1. DISCUSSION
  2. HUSBAND’s Attempt at Talaq

In Islamic sharia tradition, talaq, also known as talaq-e-biddat, can be used by any husband to obtain an instant divorce from his wife.  All that is required is that a man utter to or about his wife the word “talaq” three times in succession.  There is no requirement that the wife consent to a talaq divorce.  Interestingly, the talaq itself can be revoked on two occasions by a husband who either has intimate relations with his wife or verbally states “I take you back”.  In most Islamic countries, a talaq does not release the husband from all financial responsibilities, called a “maher”, that the man owes to a wife.[4]

As can be imagined, the Islamic practice of talaq creates the potential for legal dilemmas within the United States.  The American tradition of justice has always prized the notion of due process that fundamentally affords any party to a dispute with notice and an opportunity to be heard.  See, 14th Amend. To U.S. Constitution: City of Los Angeles v. David, 538 S.Ct. 1895, 155 L.Ed.2d 946 (2003).   Just as important, American jurisprudence affords women with rights equal to those enjoyed by men.  See, 14th Amend. To U.S. Constitution: Com. V. Daniel, 243 A.2d 400 (Pa. 1968). Talaq is available only to husbands and can be awarded without due process to a wife.

The doctrine of “comity” requires courts to recognize foreign judicial decrees that were created lawfully in the jurisdiction where they were entered.  Absent comity, courts would be free to disavow decisions rendered in different venues governed by different laws.  Within the context of marriage and divorce, failure to recognize divorces lawfully entered elsewhere could cause chaos.  People who remarry believing honestly that they are divorced could face charges of bigamy.  In fact, there have been cases in Pakistan where women who believe themselves to be divorced were charged with the criminal offense of zina (unlawful sexual intercourse) when they pursued what they believed to be a post-divorce relationship.  The purpose of comity is to avoid such chaos.

In Pennsylvania, the validity of a marriage is determined under the customs and laws of the country that approved it.  See, Phillips v. Gregg, 10 Watts 158, 1840 W.L. 3833 (Pa. 1840).  Moreover, marriage and divorce decrees entered in other jurisdictions are generally recognized as valid even though the laws governing those other jurisdictions may not be identical with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  See¸ e.g. Watson v. Watson, 364 A.2d 431 (Pa. Super. 1976); Neyman v. Buckley, 153 A.3d 1010 (Pa. Super. 2016).  As a general precept, Pennsylvania affords comity to foreign decrees, but only when those decrees were entered respecting fundamental notions of due process.  See, e.g. Kalix v. Kalix, 36 Pa. D.C. (3d 30 (1985) (divorce procured in secret in the Dominican Republic not recognized in PA.).

Our research has not revealed any Pennsylvania decisional precedent involving an Islamic talaq divorce.  However, we did locate cases from other jurisdictions that reached disparate results.  In Aleem v. Aleem, 947 A.2d 489 (MD. App. 2008).  The Maryland Supreme Court declined to apply comity to recognize the validity of a divorce obtained by a husband who appeared at the Pakistan embassy and performed talaq in writing without any advance notice to his wife.  The Maryland Court declared that the talaq violated fundamental precepts of due process.  The Maryland Supreme Court stated:

Talaq lacks any significant due process for the wife, and its use, moreover, directly deprives the wife of the due process she is entitled to when she initiates divorce litigation in the State.  This lack and deprivation of due process is itself contrary to this state’s public policy.”

 

Id at page 501 (See also, See also, Tarikonda v. Pinjari, 2009 W.L. 930007 (Mich. Ct. App. 2009) (Refusing to recognize an Indian talaq divorce as repugnant to the due process and  equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution.)

On the other hand, a Texas Court of Appeals decided that a Pakistani divorce must be recognized due to the principle of comity.  In Ashfaq v. Ashfaq, 467 S.W. 3d 539 (Tex. App. 2015), a man and woman married in Pakistan in 2007.  They emigrated to the United States in 2009 and lived together as man and wife for two years.  In 2009, the husband procured a talaq divorce under Pakistani law.  The husband returned to the United States and remarried.  In 2011, the wife petitioned for a divorce.  The husband sought dismissal based upon the grounds that he already was divorced under Pakistani law.

The Texas Appeals Court stated that the question before it “was not whether the parties satisfied the statutory requirements to file a divorce petition in Texas, but whether to recognize the Pakistani divorce as a valid divorce…”  In part because Pakistan law required notice be given to the wife and that a ninety (90) day waiting period be observed before the final decree was entered, in part because wife accepted a fixed monetary payment as a “maher”, and in part because the United States Department of State recognizes the validity of talaq divorces in rendering a wide variety of decisions regarding deportation and immigration, the Texas Court of Appeals decided to recognize the validity of the talaq divorce.  Although not a key part of its decision, the Texas Courts also recognized that both Mr. and Mrs. Ashfaq were Pakistani citizens when the Pakistani divorce was entered.

Although the reasoning of the Texas Court of Appeals in Ashfaq has given this Court pause, ultimately we agree with the DRM that HUSBAND’s talaq divorce should not be recognized.  Here, unlike Ashfaq, the talaq divorce was not obtained in a venue that enjoyed jurisdiction over both parties.  HUSBAND’s talaq divorce was procured in North Carolina, which is not nor ever has been WIFE’s place of domicile.  Moreover, no evidence was presented that the talaq divorce was registered in or recognized by the Civil Courts of the State of North Carolina.  More important, there is no evidence that WIFE received notice or an opportunity to be heard before the talaq divorce was entered, nor is there any evidence that HUSBAND paid a “maher” to WIFE that could have triggered some sort of estoppel argument.  Finally, both HUSBAND and WIFE are American citizens.  As such, they are governed by American precepts of equal protection and due process, and those precepts were not honored by HUSBAND when he obtained his talaq “divorce”.

We reject HUSBAND’s claim that he should be immune from paying spousal support because he was divorced in accordance with Islamic sharia law.  Because we still consider HUSBAND to be married under Pennsylvania law, he is still subject to the responsibility to pay spousal support.  We therefore affirm the DRM’s decision that requires HUSBAND to pay spousal support to his wife.

 

  1. Earning Capacity

The issue of earning capacity is perhaps the most frequently litigated issue in Support Court.  Almost always, litigants point to the opposing party and exclaim: “He/she could and should be earning more.”  Especially in cases like this one where the parties have rendered stupid decisions that impact their ability to earn income, these earning capacity arguments can be viscerally appealing.

The general rule in Pennsylvania is that support should be based upon actual earnings.  Citing the Pennsylvania Superior Court case of Portugal v. Portugal, 798 A.2d 246 (Pa. Super. 2002), this Court stated:

“As a general rule, a person’s earnings are the benchmark by which support is gauged…Thus, absent unusual circumstances, we will not base an obligor’s support obligation upon an artificially high amount that exceeds his or her actual income.”

Feudale v. Regus, C.P. Leb. Co. No. 2009-5-0087 (September 7, 2010).

 

The purpose of the “actual earnings over earning capacity” preference of this Court is grounded upon the need of this Court to be able to enforce its orders.  In Shimer v. Swinehart, C.P. Leb. Co. No. 2005-5-0354 (2010), this Court stated:

“Child support awards should not become an exercise in futility.  To be meaningful, a child support award must be enforceable.  Enforcement occurs via a child support contempt proceeding.  In such a proceeding, we can find the defendant in contempt only if he/she “willfully” refuses to pay support.  23. Pa. C.S.A. § 4345.  If an obligor simply does not have the income or resources to pay a child support award, we cannot find him/her in contempt.  See, e.g. Calloway v. Calloway, 594 A.2d 704 (Pa. Super. 1991); Muraco v. Pitulski, 368 A.2d 624 (Pa. 1977).  In short, we cannot enforce a child support award unless we can look the obligor in the eye at a contempt proceeding and say: “You could and should have paid the amount you owe.”

 

On the other hand, an earning capacity can be appropriate in certain circumstances.  For example, we have consistently stated that an individual who stubbornly refuses to obtain appropriate employment can and should be afforded an earning capacity.  See, e.g. Price v. Price, C.P. Leb. Co. No. 1996-5-0517 (2012).  Likewise, when a parent has displayed a consistent lifestyle that transcended his actual claimed earnings, imposition of an earning capacity can be appropriate.  See, Brown v. Brown, C.P. Leb. Co. No. 2000-20880 (2013).  Sometimes, basing a support award on earning capacity can be the only method to incentivize an obligor to work to his/her ability.

In this case, the DRM employed an earning capacity analysis with respect to both parties.  However, the DRM did not declare the parties’ earning capacities to be significantly in excess of their actual earnings.  For example, the DRM noted that WIFE is able to earn $11.20 per hour for a 25 hour work week during the school year.  This equates to gross earnings of roughly $1,200 per month.  The earning capacity determined by the DRM for WIFE was $1,073 per month, which is close to the net amount WIFE would receive with gross earnings of $1,200 each month.

As it relates to HUSBAND, the DRM determined that he could earn $1,261 per week as a long-term substitute math teacher.  During the school year, HUSBAND could therefore earn over $5,000 per month.  Despite this, the DRM determined HUSBAND’s net earning capacity to be $4,197 per month, which is very close to the amount that HUSBAND actually earned as a human relations analyst with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Because both HUSBAND and WIFE worked at jobs that were not available during the summer months, the DRM created a 2-prong order that governed the summer months in addition to the school year.  Starting on June 6, 2020, the DRM reduced HUSBAND’s earning capacity to $3,400 per month and WIFE’s earning capacity to $222 per month.

Predictably, HUSBAND claims that the DRM erred by assessing an earning capacity for him that was too high and an earning capacity for WIFE that was too low.  In the view of this Court, the DRM appropriately assessed each party’s earning capacity for the period of time when school was in session.  In the opinion of this Court, HUSBAND’s superior age, education, work experience and English proficiency all equate to a potential for earnings that far transcends that of WIFE.  At least while school was in session, the DRM’s income determination of $4,197 per month for HUSBAND and $1,073 per month for WIFE is both reasonable and supported by the record.

Unfortunately, school has not been in session since late March when the government declared a pandemic emergency.  Since the schools were shut down, we have no ability to discern whether the parties were or were not paid, whether the parties did or did not receive unemployment compensation, or whether the parties located other employment.  Because the world has literally changed since the beginning of April, we will discard the second portion of the DRM’s earning capacity determination that was scheduled to take effect in early June.  Instead, we will order that a remand hearing take place and we will afford the DRM with authority to enter a decision on remand retroactive to the beginning of April.

For the period of time between February 10, 2020 and April 1, 2020, we will affirm the DRM’s determination of earning capacity.  On remand, the DRM should re-evaluate earning capacity for both parents from April 1, 2020 moving forward.

  1. Custody

During the school year, Judge Jones’ Custody Order afforded WIFE with eight (8) out of fourteen (14) days of custody.  During the summer months, he ordered that the parties equally divide custody.  In her calculations, the DRM determined that HUSBAND enjoyed custody rights 43% of available time.  Because of this, she employed a shared physical custody adjustment as required by Pennsylvania’s Child Support Guidelines.

HUSBAND argues that his actual shared custody percentage was higher than 43% because the DRM failed to take into consideration that he enjoyed 50-50 custody during the summer months.  HUSBAND’s observation about custody time is accurate.  The DRM’s determination of a 57-43% split accurately portrays the custody schedule during the school year.  However, if one averaged total overnight periods for an entire year, HUSBAND’s percentage of custody would be higher because he enjoyed equal custody during the summer.

Because of the nature of our decision in this case, the fact that the DRM did not consider the summer 50-50 custody schedule will be meaningless.  As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we will be directing the DRM to re-evaluate everything moving forward from April 1, 2020.  In her post-April analysis, the DRM can and should consider the totality of Judge Jones’ Custody Order.  However, because the initial prong of the DRM’s decision focused solely upon the months of February and March, and because the 57-43% custody percentage was in place during this period of time, there is no need to disturb the portion of the DRM’s decision that pre-dates April 1, 2020.

 

III.     CONCLUSION

We fully expect that the coronavirus pandemic will create a veritable flood of support modification petitions that will have to be decided by DRMs.  It will be difficult for DRMs and Courts to process the anticipated influx of cases that are likely to arrive once the pandemic judicial emergency ends in June[5].  In almost all instances, DRMs will have the ability to consider the parties’ circumstances retroactive to the commencement of the pandemic that occurred on or about April 1, 2020.  This is one of many cases where the DRM will have to return to the proverbial drawing board to re-evaluate a support obligation effective on April 1, 2020.

We issue this Opinion today so that the Domestic Relations Office can put this case on its schedule before the anticipated wave of modifications will arrive.  We suspect that this will be the first of many cases where the DRM will have to re-examine the circumstances of support litigants in light of the pandemic emergency.  As DRMs evaluate this case, and others, the DRM should consider the following factors:

  • To what extent did the pandemic affect the parties’ incomes?
  • To what extent were the parties able to mitigate their income loss with governmental benefits such as unemployment compensation and stimulus checks?
  • How did the pandemic affect the parties’ childcare expenses?
  • Did the pandemic alter the parties’ custody arrangement? Did a new custody schedule alter the need for a shared custody adjustment?
  • How drastically has the job environment in Lebanon been affected by the pandemic? Prior to April, Lebanon enjoyed one of the lowest unemployment rates in the whole country.  Because of this we routinely stated to support litigants that jobs are available in Lebanon for everyone who wishes to work.  Can that still be said?  What governmental statistics can be accessed to evaluate the local job market?
  • Has a support litigant been exposed to the coronavirus? Has the litigant tested positive?  If so, what were or are the quarantine requirements?

Of course, there may be a plethora of additional considerations that a DRM must evaluate since the advent of COVID-19.  Everything relevant must be evaluated.  In some cases, like the one at bar, all of the reasonable expectations and assumptions that were available to a DRM changed almost overnight.  This requires an almost de novo evaluation of the parties’ circumstances since April 1, 2020.  We will remand this case for such an evaluation.

 

 

[1] The parties were married in August of 2007.  At the time, WIFE was twenty (20) years old and HUSBAND was thirty-three (33).

[2] During the school year, WIFE was awarded physical custody eight (8) out of every fourteen (14) days.  During the summer, the parties equally divided custody.

[3] HUSBAND’s exceptions included a handwritten list of actions on the part of WIFE that he considered to be a “disgrace and ashamed to the marriage trust.”  Without raising any specifics, HUSBAND accused WIFE of infidelity.  He complained vociferously that WIFE refused to wear a hijab and that “It is noticeable that she dresses in an exposed way (against our traditions, belief and religion) that attracts other men and they start flirting with her and she lets them speak with her in an inappropriate way.”  HUSBAND also complained that WIFE refused to engage in sexual relations with him.

[4] All of the above information was derived from a variety of on-line sources and from an article published in the UCLA Legal Journal entitled “The Western Judicial Answer to Islamic Talaq: Peeking Through the Gate of Conflict of Laws; 5 UCLA J.E.L. 1 (2006).

[5] We believe that all COVID-19 related Modification Petitions should be entertained, even in cases such as this one that were recently decided.  Of course, the threshold of “substantial change of circumstances” must still be established by the Petitioner.

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