Judges Opinions Public Notices, — December 22, 2021 9:44 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, December 22, 2021

Volume 59, No. 21

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

TRUST NOTICE

ORPHANS’ COURT DIVISION NOTICES

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Teah F. Sowers, v. Kelvin J. Mejia

 

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 JON E. KEENER a/k/a JON ERIK KEENER, late of Cleona Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Carole Gingrich, Executrix

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF AUDRIE A UNDERKOFFLER, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Carol Phillips, Executrix

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF DEBRA D. PIENTOWSKI, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Co-Administrators.

 

Daniel A. Mack, Administrator

 

Amanda L. Voshell, Administrator

 

Caleb J. Zimmerman, Esquire

Zimmerman Law Office

466 Jonestown Road

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

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

 

Judith Nigro, Administratrix

250 Cedar Place

Wayne, PA 19087

 

Edmund J. Campbell, Esquire

Campbell Rocco Law

2701 Renaissance Boulevard, Fourth Floor

King of Prussia, PA 19406

 

ESTATE OF VIRGINIA E. SARABOK, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Virginia A. Sarabok, Executrix

 

Steven D. W. Miller, Esq., CELA

Miller Law Firm PC

718 Poplar Street, Suite 1

Lebanon, PA 17042               

 

ESTATE OF EDNA I. TYSON, late of East Hanover Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Linda K. Spayde, Executrix

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

P.O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF HAROLD L. MULL late of Bethel Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Kenneth E. Mull, Co-Executor

55 Mull Lane

Lebanon, PA 17046

 

Ruth Ann Funck, Co-Executor

425 Gravel Hill Road

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF DOUGLAS JAY MEYER, late of North Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Larry M. Meyer, Administrator

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

SECOND 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

 

THIRD 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

 

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

 

ORPHANS’ COURT DIVISION NOTICES

 

Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County

 

Notice is hereby given that the following accounts in decedents estates, Guardianships and trusts

have been filed in the Office of the Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court of Lebanon

County, and that the same will be presented to the Court of Common Pleas-Orphans’ Court

Division of said County for Confirmation NISI on

 

Monday, January 3, 2022

At 10:00 A.M.

 

in Courtroom No. 1, Municipal Building, City of Lebanon

 

FIRST AND FINAL ACCOUNTS WITH PROPOSED SCHEDULE OF DISTRIBUTION

FILED BY EXECUTORS OR ADMINISTRATORS

 

  1. Webb, Samuel E. aka Webb, Lupo Samuel E., dec’d., Lucy A. Houle, Admrx., , John
  2. Zimmerman, Atty,

 

All of the aforesaid accounts and statements of Proposed Distribution will be confirmed

ABSOLUTELY as of course by the said Orphans’ Court except those to which exemptions are

filed within twenty (20) days after the same are confirmed NISI.

 

Brian Craig

REGISTER OF WILLS AND CLERK OF ORPHANS’ COURT

LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

 

 

 

 

 

JUDGES OPINION

 

Teah F. Sowers, v. Kelvin J. Mejia

 

Civil Action-Family Law-Child Support-Other Family Support-Deviation-Support of Adult Child-College Expenses

 

Kevin J. Mejia (“Father”) filed Exceptions to an Order adopting the Report and Recommendation of the Domestic Relations Master establishing a child support amount for the parties’ child.  Father asserts that the Domestic Relations Master erred in establishing the child support amount by failing to consider support obligations for his other children, including an adult child who is attending college.

 

  1. In reviewing a report and recommendation of the domestic relations master, the court must give the fullest consideration to the credibility findings of the domestic relations master, who was present to observe the demeanor of the witnesses and to hear their testimony.

 

  1. However, the domestic relations master’s report and recommendation is advisory only, and the court is not bound by its conclusions.

 

  1. The Pennsylvania Support Guidelines indicate that the court in establishing a child support order must consider other child support obligations of the defendant.

 

  1. The goal of the Guidelines is to treat each child equitably, as neither a first nor a later family should receive preference.

 

  1. Pa.R.C.P. Rule 1910.16-5 permits a court to deviate from the suggested Guideline amount in different situations, including when there are unusual fixed obligations and other relevant and appropriate factors.

 

  1. Parties must present the court with necessary data for the court to analyze child support.

 

  1. The duty of support to a child generally ceases when the child reaches the age of majority, which is defined as either eighteen (18) years of age or when the child graduates from high school, whichever comes later.

 

  1. While a parent is not obligated legally to provide for a child’s college expenses, a parent may assume financial responsibility for a child’s secondary education.

 

  1. Where Father failed to produce sufficient evidence of the support he provides for another minor son, the Domestic Relations Master did not err by failing to include that support obligation in structuring the current support Order.

 

  1. While the Domestic Relations Master did not err in failing to consider Father’s monthly contribution to his eighteen (18) year old daughter’s college expenses as another support obligation in structuring the within support Order, Father’s contribution toward his eighteen (18) year old daughter’s support should have been considered as an unusual obligation triggering a deviation analysis.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. 2020-50240, Opinion by Bradford H. Charles, Judge, March 17, 2021.

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

DOMESTIC RELATIONS SECTION

 

TEAH F. SOWERS                           : 

          (Plaintiff)                                 :        NO. 2020-5-0240                                                                                                 :        PACSES NO. 100300274

  1. :       

                                                          :

KELVIN J. MEJIA                            :

(Defendant)                            :

ORDER OF COURT

 

AND NOW, this 17th day of March, 2021, upon consideration of the exceptions filed by Kelvin J. Mejia, (hereafter FATHER) and in accordance with the attached Opinion, the Order of this Court is as follows:

  1. FATHER’s exceptions are granted in part and denied in part.
  2. Effective June 6, 2020 through December 31, 2020, FATHER’s support obligation for his minor son shall be $1,000.00 per month. Effective January 1, 2021 and going forward, FATHER’s support obligation for his minor son shall be $1,100.00 per month.  The further Order of this Court will be as follows:

AMOUNT/FREQUENCY  OBLIGATION TYPE                  BENEFICIARY

6/06/20-12/31/20

_$1,000.00 _/_month_          _ Child support _        Christian J. Mejia

_$100.00_/_month_                _Arrears_                      Christian J. Mejia

01/01/21 and forward

_$1,100.00 _/_month_          _Child Support _          Christian J. Mejia

_$110.00_/_month_                _Arrears_                      Christian J. Mejia

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.

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:  _68_% by Defendant and _32_% by Plaintiff.

____Defendant _X__ Plaintiff ____Neither party is to provide medical coverage __for Plaintiff and child.

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,.

_____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.

__X__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.

 

 

D.__X__DEFENDANT____PLAINTIFF SHALL PAY THE FOLLOWING FEES:  

FEE TOTAL FEE DESCRIPTION                  PAYMENT FREQUENCY

_$40.25/ once_     JCS FEE                         _$40.25_PER _once__

_____/______________________________PER _________

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS:

___ ____All other provisions from the court order dated ___, not affected by this order, shall remain in full force and effect.

Unreimbursed medical after spousal support:

 

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/gb

 

cc:     Domestic Relations

Teah F. Sowers// PO Box 322, Jonestown PA 17038

Kelvin J. Mejia// 4 Willow Lane, Jonestown PA 17038

Donna L. Brightbill, Esq.// 315 South Eighth Street, Lebanon, Pennsylvania

          17042

Loreen M. Burkett, Esq.// 802 Walnut Street, Lebanon, Pennsylvania 17042

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

DOMESTIC RELATIONS SECTION

 

 

TEAH F. SOWERS                           : 

          (Plaintiff)                                 :                  NO. 2020-5-0240                                                                                        :                  PACSES NO. 100300274

  1. :       

                                                          :

KELVIN J. MEJIA                            :

(Defendant)                            :

APPEARANCES

 

Donna Brightbill, Esquire                              For Teah F. Sowers

LONG BRIGHTBILL ATTORNEYS AT LAW

 

Loreen Burkett, Esquire                                   For Kevin J. Mejia

WEISS BURKETT ATTORNEYS AT LAW

 

OPINION BY CHARLES, J., March 17, 2021

 

Currently before this Court are Defendant’s exceptions to the findings of the Domestic Relations Master (hereafter “DRM”). Defendant objects to the DRM’s failure to consider his other support obligations for other children, including an adult child. We will consider the merits of this exception.

 

  1. FACTS

The parties are parents of a nine (9) year old minor child, C.M[1]. The parties have a Custody Order granting Teah Sowers (Hereafter MOTHER) primary physical custody with Kelvin Mejia (Hereafter FATHER) having periods of partial custody on alternating weekends and one evening per week. On or about May 27, 2020, MOTHER filed a support complaint against FATHER for the support of C.M.

MOTHER has worked since April 2019 at Wesco Aircraft as a warehouse associate. MOTHER makes $16.48 per hour and with overtime makes $24.72 per hour. MOTHER’s year-to-date pay as of October 17, 2020 was $39,723.49. MOTHER provides medical insurance for the minor child through her employment, which costs $151.36 bi-weekly to cover herself and the child. The minor child attends the Learning Mill Daycare. The cost for daycare for the minor child is $130.00 a week during the school year and $180.00 per week during the summer.

FATHER lives alone and works as a truck driver at Everlast Roofing He is paid on a bi-weekly basis. His taxable income in 2019 was $58,289.00.

FATHER has three (3) other children in addition to the parties’ minor child. Ashley is emancipated; she is eighteen (18) years of age and in college. Two of his other children, Anthony (14) and Osmar (15), reside in New York with different mothers. There is no formal support order for any of FATHER’s other children. However, the DRM determined that FATHER pays $300.00 per month in support for his son Anthony and $650.00 per month for his emancipated daughter. FATHER also alleges he makes direct payments to Osmar’s mother approximately four times a year.

The DRM issued an Order dated December 1, 2020 directing FATHER to pay the monthly amount of $1,274.87 from the date of filing through December 31, 2020. FATHER’s support obligation would increase to $1,339.18 per month beginning January 1, 2021.

On December 21, 2020, FATHER filed timely exceptions to the recommendation of the DRM.  He argued that the DRM erred by failing to consider his other support obligations.

 

  1. LEGAL PRINCIPLES

The Superior Court has provided guidance with respect to the scope of review we must employ.  In reviewing a DRM’s report, we must give “fullest consideration” to the credibility findings of the DRM, who was present to observe the demeanor of witnesses and hear their testimony. Schuback v. Schuback, 603 A.2d 194, 196 (Pa. Super. 1992), citing Dukmen v. Dukmen, 420 A.2d 667, 670 (Pa. Super. 1980).  A DRM’s report should not be lightly disregarded.  Pasternak v. Pasternak, 204 A.2d 290, 291 (Pa. Super. 1964).  However, the DRM’s report is only advisory, and we are not bound by its conclusions.  Pasternak, supra at 291, citing Rankin v. Rankin, 124 A.2d 639, 641 (Pa. Super. 1956).  Essentially, we must consider all of the evidence de novo and make an independent determination of the amount of support due and owing.  Pasternak, supra at 291, citing Rankin, supra at 641.

 

III.    DISCUSSION

FATHER argues that the DRM erred by failing to properly consider his additional support obligations for all of his additional children from previous relationships and, that she thus erred in calculating the amount of support for this matter. In response, MOTHER argues that one of FATHER’s additional children is an emancipated college student. Furthermore, MOTHER argues that FATHER failed to present sufficient evidence of his support obligation for Osmar.

During the hearing before the DRM, the following evidence was presented:

  1. FATHER testified that he has a total of four (4) children with four (4) different women.
  2. FATHER testified and submitted corroborating documents, which established that he pays three-hundred dollars per month for his minor son, Anthony.
  3. FATHER testified that he sees his minor son, Osmar, four (4) times per year. During those times, he will take the child shopping for clothes and upon returning Osmar to his mother, FATHER gives her an unspecified amount of money in support of Osmar.
  4. FATHER testified that when Osmar is in his care, he spends most of his time with FATHER’s parents.
  5. FATHER testified that he does not have proof that he financially contributes to his minor son Osmar.
  6. FATHER testified that his daughter Ashley is eighteen (18) years of age and a college student.
  7. FATHER testified that he contributes $650 per month towards Ashley’s college costs.

Based on our review of the record, we find that the DRM erred in finding that FATHER did not have additional support obligations to warrant a deviation from the Support Guidelines. Although we recognize that her finding with respect to FATHER’s minor child Osmar was legitimate due to a lack of corroborating evidence that FATHER regularly paid support for Osmar, there was sufficient evidence to support a finding of FATHER’s financial support for both Anthony and Ashley.

In determining any support obligation, we must apply the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines. Young v. Muthersbaugh, 609 A.2d 1381, 1383 (Pa.Super. 1992). Those guidelines instruct us to consider other child support obligations of the defendant. Id. at 1383- 84. The guidelines specifically state: “[T]he goal of the guidelines is to treat each child equitably, in no event should either a first or later family receive preference.” Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-7(b).

The guideline rules also create a methodology for deviation.  Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-5 permits a court to deviate from the support guideline formula in a wide variety of situations, including when there are “unusual fixed obligations” and “other relevant and appropriate factors.”  This Court has characterized situations where parents have irresponsibly created a large number of children, situations where a parent does not have any housing expense and situations where a parent is required to travel long distances to visit children as implicating a deviation analysis.  See, Moyer v. Nafzinger, C.P. Leb. Co. No. 2009-5-0473 (2016), Haag v. Haag, No. 2016-5-0146 (2016), Richards v. Richards, No. 2006-5-0322 (2016) and Varella v. Sandifer, No. 1997-5-0492 (2003).

In this case, the DRM recognized the uniqueness of the fact pattern before her.  Because of this, the DRM did consider FATHER’s payments for Anthony, and appropriately employed a deviation analysis.  FATHER does not believe that the DRM went far enough.  He argues that additional deviation should have been employed because he pays support for Osmar and Ashley as well.

Parties must bring to court necessary data for a court to analyze child support. It was FATHER’s burden to produce evidence of his support of his minor child Osmar. He failed to do so.  And his failure to provide the court with the necessary data to support deviation from the guidelines will appropriately result in the exclusion of the alleged support obligation in the structuring of the current support order.

Our opinion as to FATHER’s adult daughter Ashley is somewhat different.  The duty to support one’s minor children is absolute, and the purpose of child support is to promote the child’s best interests. That duty to support a child generally ceases when he or she reaches the “age of majority”, which is defined as either eighteen (18) years old or when he or she graduates high school, whichever comes later. M.E.W. v. W.L.W., 240 A.3d 626 (Pa.Sup.Ct. 2020). Parents are not legally obligated to provide for their children’s college expenses; however, a parent may assume financial responsibilities for a child’s secondary education. Mackay v. Mackay, 984 A.2d 529 (Pa.Sup.Ct. 2009).

Ashley is a legal adult.  She has adult responsibilities and adult resources that do not apply to minors under the age of 18.  Because Ashley is an adult, FATHER owes no legal duty to pay support for her.  All of these things weigh in favor of the DRM’s decision to ignore FATHER’s contribution toward Ashley’s education.

On the other hand, we perceive problems, both societal and personal, that would flow from a decision that would incentivize a father to ignore his moral duty to help a child with his/her college education.  It is self-evident that adults with a college education enjoy a brighter future for both themselves and the generation that follows.  College education is not cheap.  Moreover, while there are grants and loans to assist students, those grants and loans are predicated in part upon the income of the child’s parents and the assumption that those parents will provide a portion of that income to defray college education expense.

Ashley is FATHER’s daughter.  To her credit, Ashley has demonstrated the drive and ability to obtain a college education.  But she needs FATHER’s help to continue her quest for a college degree.  We simply cannot turn our back on those realities.

As we weigh the competing considerations outlined above, we will opt for an approach that achieves a so-called “middle ground”.  Such “middle-ground” will affirm the DRM’s decision not to consider FATHER’s $650.00 monthly contribution toward Ashley to be an “other support obligation” as defined in the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines.  However, we will require that FATHER’s contribution toward Ashley be considered as an “unusual obligation” that would trigger a deviation analysis.  Because the DRM did not consider FATHER’s support to Ashley in such a manner, we will grant FATHER’s exception and reject the DRM’s conclusion.

Having concluded that FATHER’s payments to Ashley should have been considered as part of a deviation analysis, we will undertake such an analysis on our own.  In doing so, we will accept the DRM’s findings that FATHER earned $5,553.22 per month and MOTHER earned $2,559.90 per month.  We will also accept the DRM’s calculation that strict application of the Support Guidelines would yield an obligation for FATHER of $1,274.00 per month through December of 2020 and $1399.00 per month thereafter.  Finally, we will accept the DRM’s conclusion that FATHER paid $650.00 per month for Ashley.  Accepting all of the above, and accepting that FATHER should receive some deviation by virtue of the support he pays for Ashley, we conclude that FATHER should pay $1,000.00 per month between June 6, 2020 and December 31, 2020.  Thereafter, he should pay $1,100.00 per month.  An Order to establish these amounts will be entered today’s date.

 

[1] To protect the child’s privacy, we will refer to him by his initials.

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