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Chen v. Chen

Pennsylvania Supreme Court
893 A.2d 87 (2006)


Facts

As part of the divorce decree between Wheamei Chen (plaintiff) and Richard Chen (defendant), the parties entered into a Property Settlement Agreement (the Agreement) which required Richard to pay child support in the amount of $25 per week to Wheamei on behalf of their daughter, Theresa (plaintiff). The child support amount was never increased even though the Agreement allowed for such an increase if Richard’s income increased. As Theresa got older, Richard often received promotions and increases in pay, yet continued to pay only $25 per week in child support. When Theresa turned 18 years old, Wheamei was notified that the child support was ending. Wheamei filed a petition against Richard seeking child support arrearage owed. Thereafter, Theresa filed a petition to intervene as a party to her mother’s action and argued that she had a “legally enforceable interest” as a third-party intended beneficiary under the Agreement. The trial court allowed Theresa to intervene and allowed Wheamei to withdraw as plaintiff. The trial court concluded that because the Agreement had not been merged with the divorce decree it should be treated as a separate contract rather than a court order. As a result, the trial court found that Richard had breached the Agreement and calculated child support arrearage to be $59,000. The appellate court affirmed and Richard appealed.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Baer, J.)

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Concurrence (Cappy, J.)

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Concurrence (Saylor, J.)

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Concurrence (Castille, J.)

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