John F. Finney, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Henry W. A. Hanson, Jr., Harrisburg, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross and Arnold, JJ.
[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 511]
In this divorce action the wife alleged cruelty and indignities. The master reported the evidence established indignities only and on that ground recommended a divorce. The court below overruled respondent's exceptions, adopted the findings and conclusions of the master, and entered a decree of absolute divorce in favor of libellant.
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Libellant's testimony indicated that she did not consider her life endangered by her husband's alleged cruelties. She testified she controlled him on at least one occasion 'by staring him in the face and showed him that I had no fear.' The complaint of cruelties will not be further considered.
While physical attacks may not be of sufficient violence so as to constitute cruelties they may be considered with other acts in connection with the charge of indignities. Troianowski v. Troianowski, 155 Pa. Super. 110, 38 A.2d 367. That charge was established provided libellant's testimony is believed. The master concluded the weight of the credible testimony rested with libellant and her failure to call supporting witnesses was neither fatal nor sufficient to discredit her testimony. While we are not bound by his findings, his conclusion upon the credibility of witnesses must be given the fullest consideration and should not be lightly disregarded. Brown v. Brown, 163 Pa. Super. 490, 63 A.2d 130; Boughter v. Boughter, 164 Pa. Super. 574, 67 A.2d 812.
The master had the advantage of seeing and hearing the parties and their witnesses and observing their appearance and demeanor while testifying whereas we are confined to the printed record. '[T]he demeanor of witnesses is the very touchstone of credibility' and may well be the deciding factor in appraising truthworthiness. Smith v. Smith, 157 Pa. Super. 582, 584, 43 A.2d 371, 372. A careful and independent review of the record discloses no sound basis for rejecting the master's conclusion and the decree will be affirmed.
Stated succinctly, the parties were married in 1936 and separated August 22, 1947. At the time of the hearing libellant was 33 years of age and respondent 15 years her senior. One child was born of the marriage. Libellant testified she and her husband owned and operated a confectionery store and that on two occasions respondent
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threw a candy scoop at her merely because she was talking to customers. He also kicked her in the stomach while she was pregnant because she had not properly raised the awning. Respondent denied these allegations insisting they had only 'minor arguments' and gallantly stated 'If I kick her in the stomach the baby was gone.' When respondent was questioned relative to his wife's charge of irregular sexual relations his reply was 'That is the ...