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Property Division Cases in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

PA Appellate Cases Involving Equitable Distribution

  • Taber v. Taber – In the case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that under recently enacted statutes, a posthumous divorce decree (a divorce decree entered after the death of a spouse) would be vacated as having been inappropriately entered by the court; however, the trial court’s order for equitable distribution that had been entered prior to the death of the husband would be enforceable against the wife as the husband had filed a Complaint in Divorce and the issue of equitable distribution had been fully litigated prior to the husband’s death. The Court further held that the wife would not be entitled to claim an inheritance or other rights under the husband’s will or the Estates and Probate Code, but instead her rights would be determined under the equitable distribution order. 
  • Bonawits v. Bonawits – PA Superior Court discusses rules regarding entry of bifurcated divorce decrees allowing entry of decree prior to division of marital assets and debts. 
  • Johnson v. Johnson – PA Superior Court ruled that former wife’s award of equitable distribution could not be satisfied through proceeds from sale of ex-husband’s home owned as tenants by the entireties with his current wife nor from jointly titled investments owned by the ex-husband and his current wife. 
  • Rimel v. Rimel – The PA Superior Court held that as part of equitable distribution, the trial court is required to apply a Social Security offset of the value of husband’s Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension which would consider the fact that husband will not be entitled to Social Security benefits due to his federal government employment. 
  • Busse v. Busse – Wife was properly awarded counsel fees in conjunction with her claim for alimony pendente lite (APL) given the discrepancy of the parties’ incomes and husband’s bad faith in the litigation. Matters of credibility are determined by the trial court and will not be disturbed on appeal unless no facts appear to justify the court’s finding. The trial court properly used the date of separation for valuing the parties’ business where there were allegations that husband had dissipated the value of the business asset after the parties’ separation. 
  • Kraisinger v. Kraisinger – The parties entered into a marriage settlement agreement that provided that husband would make the payments for the mortgage on wife’s residence. In addition, the agreement provided that husband would pay $500 per month per child for child support. The agreement also contained a clause indicating that if wife filed to modify her child support, she would be required to pay husband’s counsel fees. Wife filed for modification of child support. Husband argued that her child support should not be modified given he was paying both the mortgage and child support. The Superior Court held that although one parent cannot bargain away a child’s right to adequate support from the other, an agreement in which one parent releases the other from the duty of support will be enforced so long as it is fair and reasonable, was made without fraud or coercion, and does not prejudice the welfare of the children involved. Here the Court found Husband’s mortgage payments to be his obligation under equitable distribution and not support. Therefore, the Court found that wife was entitled to seek modification of support and that the provision for attorney’s fees was unenforceable.

NOTE: The cases listed are for informational purposes only and may have been amended or overturned by subsequently decided court cases.

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