Judges Opinions Public Notices, — December 14, 2021 14:44 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, December 15, 2021

Volume 59, No. 20

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

TRUST NOTICE

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Jessica A. Bomgardner, v. Kevin J. Bomgardner

 

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 DOMINIC J. PASQUINI a/k/a DOMENICK JOHN PASQUINI, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Eric Stephen Pasquini, Executor

 

Heather D. Royer, Esquire

Johnson, Duffie, Stewart & Weidner, P.C.

301 Market Street, P.O. Box 109

Lemoyne, PA 17043

 

ESTATE OF PATRICIA RAE HOWARD, late of 440 East Lincoln Avenue, Myerstown Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

James T. Lawrence-Howard, Co-Executor

506 South 15½ Street

Reading, PA 19606

 

Tommie Lou McLellan, Co-Executor

340 Maniac Lane

Frostproof, FL 33843

 

Terry D. Weiler, Esquire,

213 East Lancaster Avenue

Shillington, PA 19607

 

ESTATE OF ANNA M. OSTROW, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Joann Y. Hauer, Executrix

 

Jon F. Arnold, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

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

 

Seandor J. Szeles, Executor

 

Wayne M. Pecht, Esquire

Johnson, Duffie, Stewart & Weidner, P.C.

301 Market Street, P.O. Box 109

Lemoyne, PA 17043

 

ESTATE OF WAYNE ROBERT RENTSCHLER, JR. a/k/a WAYNE R. RENTSCHLER, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Chris Rentschler, Executor

581 Blue Mountain Road

Fredericksburg, PA 17026

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF EUGENE C. HOSTETTER a/k/a EUGENE CLYDE HOSTETTER, late of North Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased September 5, 2021. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors on October 26, 2021.

 

Edwin N. Hostetter, Co-Executor

 

Sheila J. Schwenk, Co-Executor

 

Hazen Law Group

2000 Linglestown Road, Suite 202

Harrisburg, PA 17110

 

ESTATE OF RANDY J. YERGER, late of Bethel Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Debra A. Yerger, Executrix

437 School Drive

Fredericksburg, PA 17026

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF TESSIE E. ONDRUSEK, late of Myerstown Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Lisa R. Layser, Executrix

140 North College Street

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF NATHAN E. KELLER, late of Heidelberg Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Jonathan S. Keller, Executor

306 S. Carpenter St.

Newmanstown, PA 17073

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067           

 

ESTATE OF ALFRED W. MILLER, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Leona M. Rega, Executrix

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

P.O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF CLIFFORD S. WIKE, a/k/a CLIFFORD STERLING WIKE, a/k/a CLIFFORD S. WEIK, late of Heidelberg Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Trish A. Mills, Executor

733 Farmwood Lane

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF VINCENT D. GAGLIARDO, SR., a/k/a VINCENT GAGLIARDO, SR., late of Bethel Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Jennifer Hoffman, Executrix

20 West Market Street

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Latisha B. Schuenemann, Esquire

Leisawitz Heller Abramowitch Phillips, P.C.

2755 Century Boulevard

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

ESTATE OF MICHAEL J. ANNIBALI, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Georgianne E. Annibali, Administratrix

193 East Market Street

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Joseph M. Farrell, Esquire

201/203 South Railroad Street

P.O. Box 113

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF MARY H. HOKE, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Edward R. Puchalik, Executor

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF ANDREW J. DZWONCHYK, JR., late of Union Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased 11/08/2021. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Daphne L. Hoke, Administrator

 

George W. Porter, Esquire

909 E. Chocolate Ave.

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF MICHAEL R. BARKER, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Jamison Barker, Administrator

 

Candis A. Tunilo, Esquire

Nestico Druby, P.C.

1135 East Chocolate Avenue, Suite 300

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF ERNEST R. WAGNER, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Gloria K. Wagner, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

TRUST NOTICE

 

NOTICE OF TRUST ADMINISTRATION of the Birdella R. Wise a/k/a Birdella I.M. Wise Living Trust dated July 22, 1996 (the “Trust”), following the death of Birdella R. Wise a/k/a Birdella I.M. Wise, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania on September 4, 2021 (the “Decedent”), is hereby given.

 

All persons having claims against the Decedent or Trust are requested to present them for settlement and all persons indebted to the Decedent or Trust are requested to make immediate payment to:

 

Thomas J. Wise and Frank J. Wise

Successor Death Co-Trustees

1834 Lake Drive

Lebanon, PA  17046

Or to:

Christa M. Aplin, Esquire

JSDC Law Offices

11 East Chocolate Avenue, Suite 300

Hershey, PA 17033

(717) 533-3280

 

 

 

 

 

JUDGES OPINION

 

Jessica A. Bomgardner, v. Kevin J. Bomgardner

 

Civil Action-Family Law-Child and Spousal Support-Exceptions-Presumptive Guideline Support Amount-Deviation-Factors-Other Income in the Household-Paramour

 

Defendant filed Exceptions to the Order adopting the Report and Recommendation of the Domestic Relations Master regarding child and spousal support.  Defendant argued that the Domestic Relations Master erred by failing to direct downward deviation from the amount indicated by the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines based upon the fact that Plaintiff’s significant other pays a substantial portion of the household living expenses.

 

  1. Pa.R.C.P. Rule 1910.16-5 indicates that the Court should consider in deciding whether to deviate from the presumptive amount established by the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines factors including unusual needs and fixed obligations, other income in the household and other relevant and appropriate factors.

 

  1. Analysis regarding whether to deviate from the Guideline suggested amount is vested in the discretion of the trial court.

 

  1. Deviation is permitted only when special needs and/or circumstances are present so as to render an award in the amount of the Guideline figure unjust or inappropriate.

 

  1. When a parent has no housing expenses, a deviation analysis must be undertaken.

 

  1. A deviation analysis is not required every time a parent shares expenses with a paramour with whom he or she lives.

 

  1. A Guideline deviation analysis when a parent shares expenses with a paramour is permissive, not mandatory.

 

  1. Where the analysis of the Domestic Relations Master shows that the Domestic Relations Master considered the totality of both parents’ circumstances including contribution to the expenses of Plaintiff’s household by her significant other, government benefits received by Plaintiff and reduction in Defendant’s income related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Domestic Relations Master directed review of the Order take place in 2021, the Domestic Relations Master did not err or abuse her discretion in failing to award a downward deviation.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. 2017-50556, Opinion by Bradford H. Charles, Judge, November 19, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

 

 

DOMESTIC RELATIONS SECTION

 

 JESSICA A. BOMGARDNER,                  :  NO. 2017-5-0556

                             Plaintiff                         :       

                                                                   :  PACSES NO. 298116665                                                                      v.       :       

                                                                   :       

KEVIN J. BOMGARDNER,                        :

                             Defendant                     :

 

ORDER OF COURT

 

AND NOW, this 19th day of November, 2020, upon consideration of the Exceptions filed by Kevin J. Bomgardner, after review of the file, and in accordance with the attached Opinion, the Order of this Court is as follows:

  1. The Exceptions filed by Kevin J. Bomgardner are DENIED and the Order of this Court is as follows:

This Order shall be a three-tiered order effective March 15, 2020, May 16, 2020, and August 1, 2020.  The amount of support to be paid by the Defendant is:

From March 15, 2020 through May 15, 2020, $1229.74 per month for child support for three children, Nicholas B. Bomgardner, Miranda F. Bomgardner and Nathaniel M. Bomgardner and for spousal support for Jessica Anilu Bomgardner; plus $122.97 per month on arrears for Nicholas B. Bomgardner, Miranda F. Bomgardner, Nathaniel M. Bomgardner and Jessica Anilu Bomgardner.

From May 16, 2020 through July 31, 2020, $754.07 per month for child support for three children, Nicholas B. Bomgardner, Miranda F. Bomgardner and Nathaniel M. Bomgardner and for spousal support for Jessica Anilu Bomgardner; plus $75.41 per month on arrears for Nicholas B. Bomgardner, Miranda F. Bomgardner, Nathaniel M. Bomgardner and Jessica Anilu Bomgardner.

From August 1, 2020, $1229.74 per month for child support for three children, Nicholas B. Bomgardner, Miranda F. Bomgardner and Nathaniel M. Bomgardner and for spousal support for Jessica Anilu Bomgardner; plus $122.97 per month on arrears for Nicholas B. Bomgardner, Miranda F. Bomgardner, Nathaniel M. Bomgardner and Jessica Anilu Bomgardner.

The case shall be reviewed in or about May of 2021.

 

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

 

 

From March 15, 2020 to May 15, 2020

AMOUNT/FREQUENCY          OBLIGATION TYPE               BENEFICIARY

_$338.34_/_month_                _child support_                       _Nicholas_

_$33.84_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Nicholas_

_$338.33_/_month_                _child support_                       _Miranda_

_$33.83_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Miranda_

_$338.33_/_month_                _child support_                       _Nathaniel_

_$33.83_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Nathaniel_

_$214.74_/_month_                _spousal support_                  _Jessica_

_$21.47_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Jessica_

 

From May 16, 2020 to July 31, 2020

AMOUNT/FREQUENCY          OBLIGATION TYPE               BENEFICIARY

_$251.36_/_month_                _child support_                       _Nicholas_

_$25.14_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Nicholas_

_$251.36_/_month_                _child support_                       _Miranda_

_$25.14_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Miranda_

_$251.35_/_month_                _child support_                       _Nathaniel_

_$25.13_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Nathaniel_

_$0.00_/_month_                    _spousal support_                  _Jessica_

_$0.00_/_month_                    _arrears_                                 _Jessica_

 

 

From August 1, 2020

AMOUNT/FREQUENCY          OBLIGATION TYPE               BENEFICIARY

_$338.34_/_month_                _child support_                       _Nicholas_

_$33.84_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Nicholas_

_$338.33_/_month_                _child support_                       _Miranda_

_$33.83_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Miranda_

_$338.33_/_month_                _child support_                       _Nathaniel_

_$33.83_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Nathaniel_

_$214.74_/_month_                _spousal support_                  _Jessica_

_$21.47_/_month_                  _arrears_                                 _Jessica_

 

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 annual 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:  _75_% by Defendant and _25_% by Plaintiff.  Plaintiff to provide medical coverage __.

IT IS ORDERED THAT (ITEMS CHECKED BELOW APPLY):

___X__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 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

________/___               __________________  _________PER __________

________/___               __________________  _________PER __________

 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS:

__X__All other provisions from the court order dated November 19, 2018,

 

not affected by this order, shall remain in full force and effect.

 

This case shall be reviewed in or about May of 2021.

 

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:    Jessica Bomgardner// 2076 Greystone Drive, Lebanon PA 17042

Kevin Bomgardner// PO Box 52 Annville PA  17003

Donna Long Brightbill, Esquire// 315 South Eighth Street, Lebanon PA  17042

Loreen Burkett, Esquire// 802 Walnut Street, Lebanon PA 17042

Domestic Relations

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

 

 

DOMESTIC RELATIONS SECTION

 

 JESSICA A. BOMGARDNER,                  :  NO. 2017-5-0556

                             Plaintiff                         :  PACSES NO. 298116665  

                                                                   :                                                                            v.                                             :       

                                                                   :       

KEVIN J. BOMGARDNER,                        :

                             Defendant                     :

 

 

APPEARANCES:

 

Loreen Burkett, Esquire                                   For Jessica Bomgardner

WEISS BURKETT

 

Donna Long-Brightbill, Esquire                    For Kevin Bomgardner

LONG BRIGHTBILL

 

Opinion, Charles, J., November 19, 2020

The question presented by this case is whether a live-in paramour’s contribution toward a parent’s living expenses should automatically trigger a deviation analysis under Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-5. We hold today that it should not.  The reasons for our decision will follow.

 

  1. FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Jessica A. Bomgardner (hereafter MOTHER) and Kevin J. Bomgardner (hereafter FATHER) are the parents of three children.  We know from separate custody litigation that the parties separated in August of 2017.  Almost immediately, MOTHER initiated a Request for Spousal and Child Support.  Eventually, on February 6, 2018, a Domestic Relations Master (DRM) recommended that FATHER pay $1,962.00 per month in child support plus an additional $981.00 per month in spousal support.  This recommendation was appealed.  On May 29, 2018, this Court entered an Order to appoint an independent accountant under Pa.R.Ev. 706.  This accountant was tasked with the responsibility of evaluating FATHER’s business in order to determine FATHER’s income available for support.  After this analysis was conducted, we entered another Order on November 19, 2018 that required FATHER to pay $1,327.00 per month in child support plus an additional $201.00 per month in spousal support.  We stated when we rendered this decision:

“Having undertaken all of the above extraordinary steps, we are now prepared to render a decision regarding FATHER’s obligation to pay child support.  Is this decision perfect?  Given the state of FATHER’s financial records, we can acknowledge that it is not.  However, we can declare with great confidence that the Order we will be entering today is the product of almost unprecedented analysis and it results in a decision that is fair to both sides.” (Slip Opinion at page 2).

 

Before we ended our twenty-page Opinion, we also stated the following to both parties:

“As we articulated at the outset of this Opinion, the Court and the parties have expended an enormous amount of time, effort, energy and expense to achieve a child support order that is fair for all concerned.  This Court has no desire to replicate that time, energy and expense on an annual basis as the parties’ financial situation evolves…and neither MOTHER nor FATHER is wealthy enough to be able to easily afford the type of expense each has incurred in the child support process to date.  Because of this, we urge both MOTHER and FATHER to cooperate going forward….” (Slip Opinion at page 19).

 

In early 2019, MOTHER filed a request seeking an increase in support.  On July 17, 2019, another hearing was conducted before a DRM.  The DRM determined that there were no material changes in the parties’ financial circumstances.  Therefore, the DRM continued the November 2018 Order in effect with one exception.  The DRM did direct that FATHER pay a portion of childcare tuition for the parties’ youngest son between September of 2019 and May of 2020.

On April 20, 2020, FATHER filed a Motion for Modification of Support based upon a pandemic-related decrease of his income.  MOTHER filed a counter-petition seeking an increase in support on July 14, 2020.  On August 27, 2020, another hearing was conducted before a DRM.

On September 8, 2020, the DRM issued an extensive report.  She recommended a three-tiered Order.  Between March 15, 2020 and May 15, 2020, the DRM recommended child and spousal support totaling $1,229.74 per month.  Between May 16, 2020 and July 31, 2020, the DRM recommended total child and spousal support of $754.00 per month.  Commencing on August 1, 2020, the DRM recommended that child and spousal support be returned to $1,229.74 per month.

Predictably, FATHER filed exceptions.  Initially, FATHER argued that the DRM erred when calculating his income and MOTHER’s income.  He later withdrew those allegations and proceeded exclusively on the one argument that is now before this Court – that the DRM erred by “not giving consideration to the fact that Plaintiff/Wife’s live-in boyfriend pays a substantial portion of the household living expenses.”

 

  1. DISCUSSION

Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-5 sets forth a list of factors that a Court should consider in deciding whether to deviate from Pennsylvania’s Support Guidelines.  Those factors include:

  • Unusual needs and unusual fixed obligations…

(3)Other income in the household…

(9)Other relevant and appropriate factors.

Pennsylvania’s highest Court has declared that a deviation analysis under Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-5 should be left to the discretion of the trial court; “This flexibility is not intended to provide the trier of fact with unfettered discretion…[deviation is] permitted only when special needs and/or circumstances are present such as to render an award in the amount of the guideline figure unjust or inappropriate.” Ball v. Minnick, 648 A.2d 1192, 1196 (Pa. 1994).  With that being acknowledged, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has also stated “Where the incomes of the parties differ significantly, we believe that it is an abuse of discretion for the trial court to fail to consider whether deviating from the Support Guidelines is appropriate…”

In appropriate circumstances, this Court has not hesitated to deviate from the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines.  In Lehman v. Walmer, C.P. .Leb.Co. No. 2008-5-0412 (Sept. 12, 2012), this Court recognized that “a Court cannot always robotically adhere to rigid formulas in a child support case.”  In Summerfield v. Summerfield, C.P. Leb.Co. No. 2010-5-0700 (June 7, 2011), we affirmed a DRM’s decision that employed “rough justice” to resolve a support dispute.  We affirmed the DRM’s approach because it “effectuated justice in a manner that blind allegiance to the Support Guidelines would not.”

On several occasions, we have been asked to deviate from the Support Guidelines because one parent had little or no housing expense.  In Haag v. Haag, C.P. Leb.Co. No. 2016-5-0146 (August 11, 2016), a mother resided with her parents without cost to her or the children.  We stated:

“Almost all parents are required to expend money for housing and related expenses.  In fact, United States Census Bureau information reveals that the average American family spends roughly 30 percent of income on housing.  See www.census.gov.  See also, Wall Street Journal Guide “How Much You Should Spend On A Home” found at www.guides.wsj.com.  In this case, though, MOTHER has been afforded housing at little or no expense for both herself and the parties’ daughter.  So long as this paradigm continues, it constitutes an “unusual” situation.  In the parlance of the Support Guidelines, MOTHER has an “unusually” low housing expense, and she has “other income in the household” in the form of her parents’ financial ability to pay housing expenses.”

See also, Sonnon v. Sonnon, C.P. Leb.Co, 2017-5-0880 (October 19, 2020); Reed v. Reed, C.P. Leb.Co, 2018-5-0864 (Sept. 30, 2019).

Effectively, this Court has definitively declared that when a parent has no housing expense, a deviation analysis must be undertaken.  However, we have never declared that cohabitation with a paramour imparts a similar mandate…and we will not make such a declaration today.

The Support Guidelines permit a deviation analysis when there are “special” or “unusual” circumstances.  Having totally subsidized housing falls within this category, but cohabitation with a paramour does not.  In today’s society, cohabitation and expense-sharing have become nearly ubiquitous.  If we were to require a deviation analysis every time a parent shares expenses with a paramour, the net effect would be to dilute the importance of Pennsylvania’s Child Support Guidelines.  In common parlance, that is “one step too far”.

Of course, the totality of any parent’s financial situation must be considered in child support court.  And sharing of expenses by a parent is certainly relevant to a parent’s financial situation.  However, there is a vast difference between consideration of an expense-sharing relationship and requiring deviation when such a situation exists.  Today, we declare that the former should be undertaken but we stop short of declaring that the latter should be adopted.  By so concluding, we acknowledge that situations could arise where sharing of expenses could or should trigger deviation.[1]  What we declare today is that a Guideline deviation analysis when a parent shares expenses with a paramour is permissive, not mandatory.

In this case, there are factors that draw us close to – but not over – the line where deviation should be employed.  Here, the DRM concluded: “Plaintiff’s boyfriend pays for one-half of the rent, the water, gas, some food and the cable.”  In addition, MOTHER received copious governmental benefits related to the pandemic.  On the other hand, we do not view three children as an unusually large number, and FATHER’s income during the pandemic has decreased to the point where it is not significantly in excess of MOTHER’s earning capacity.  Moreover, the DRM specifically considered MOTHER’s governmental benefits when she created her three-tiered recommendation.  In summary, while the DRM did not use the words “deviation analysis”, and while she did not deviate from the Guidelines themselves, it is clear that the DRM considered the totality of both parents’ circumstances.  Given everything, we cannot declare the DRM’s recommendation to be erroneous or unfair, especially when we consider that the DRM directed that a review hearing take place during the first half of 2021.

We will adopt the DRM’s thorough and well-reasoned analysis as our own.  We will not deviate from it…or the Child Support Guidelines simply because MOTHER is sharing expenses with a cohabitating paramour.  We also agree with the DRM that this support dispute will have to again be reviewed in 2021 after the COVID pandemic hopefully dissipates.  In short, we will affirm the decision of the DRM and enter a Court Order in accordance with it.

 

 

[1] For example, deviation based upon expenses-sharing arrangements could be appropriate when expenses are shared unequally so that a majority of the parents’ expenses are subsidized.  Similarly, expense-sharing when combined with factors such as great disparity in the parents’ income or an unusually high number of children could also trigger a deviation analysis.

About the author

Lebanon County Legal Journal has written 749 articles for Lebanon County Legal Journal

Search