Parent Who Concealed Income Increases Must Pay Legal Fees

August 18, 2009 | Child Support, Court Decisions, Legal Fees, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Brian Vertz Brian Vertz

In Krebs v. Krebs (“Krebs II”), 2009 WL 1759726 (Pa.Super. 2009), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania considered whether to award legal fees to a parent who won modification of child support from the other parent, who had concealed increases in his income. This recent decision arose from an earlier case (Krebs v. Krebs (“Krebs I”), 944 A.2d 487 (Pa.Super. 2008)), in which the Court granted retroactive modification for a period prior to the filing of a modification petition due to the payer’s misrepresentation.

Krebs II was a divided decision. The majority ordered Father to reimburse 100% of Mother’s legal fees, or $15,408, to recover $72,603 in child support. The Court remarked about the extensive legal research; drafting of stipulations, briefs and concise statements; court appearances; and negotiations conducted by the Mother’s legal counsel as a direct result of the Father’s fraudulent concealment of his income increases.

A dissenting opinion filed by Judge Klein, however, may have the effect of limiting the majority’s ruling to its facts. Judge Klein wrote that he would have remanded for a more careful examination of the Mother’s legal fees, noting that the trial court found them to be excessive.

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