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PATERSON v. PATERSON (07/21/55)

July 21, 1955

PATERSON
v.
PATERSON, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 78, April T., 1955, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Aug. T., 1951, No. 352, in case of Harry E. Paterson v. Mary R. Paterson Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Marquis M. Smith, for appellant.

Harold R. Bair, with him Carroll Caruthers, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, and Ervin, JJ.

Author: Ross

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 617]

OPINION BY ROSS, J.

The husband-appellee instituted this divorce action on the ground of indignities to the person, later amending the complaint to include adultery and desertion. The wife answered denying the charges and, after lengthy hearings, the master recommended that the divorce be granted on the ground of indignities. The master dismissed, as do we initially, the charges of adultery and desertion as unsubstantiated by the evidence. The court below dismissed appellant's exceptions to the master's report and granted the divorce on the ground of indignities, and the wife has appealed to this Court.

The parties were married in Georgia in 1941 and resided in South Carolina until early 1944, when appellee was inducted into military service. Upon his separation from service in 1946 they moved to Vandergrift, Westmoreland County, where they resided until appellee left the home on August 16, 1951. He did not return to the marital domicile and at the time of the hearings was living in Marcus Hook. The parties have two children.

Apparently there was domestic harmony until appellee's return from military service, when friction developed which eventually led to the final separation in 1951. Appellee earned approximately $400 a month as salary from a steel company, and turned over all of it but $25 to appellant. He ate lunch at his place of employment but was required to take dinner at the home of his mother-in-law because appellant failed to prepare it for him. Appellant's constant absence from the home at night, ostensibly in the company of a woman friend, until the small hours of the morning, her moodiness and refusal to speak to appellee for sometimes days at a time, and the notes which she wrote setting forth her opinion of appellee, added fuel to the

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 618]

    fire of an already growing estrangement of the parties. The notes, which are lengthy and couched in terms of vulgarity, are reflective of a lack of respect of or consideration for her husband. They vilify him and his parents (Brown v. Brown, 163 Pa. Superior Ct. 490, 491, 63 A.2d 130) and, in our opinion, manifest a settled hate and disdain of him. We can understand, without condoning, how irresponsible and forceful language may be used during the course of a heated argument, but the opprobriousness of the general tone of the notes, written deliberately at a time when "hot blood" was either not aroused or else had had time to cool, indicates to us such utter contempt for her husband as to constitute an indignity within the meaning of our Divorce Law (Act of May 2, 1929, P.L. 1237, sec. 10, as amended by the Act of March 19, 1943, P.L. 21, sec. 1, 23 PS sec. 10).

Much of the evidence relates to appellant's allegedly improper association with one Louis Nuscius. In 1949 the parties to this action and Mr. and Mrs. Nuscius became a foursome socially. When their respective spouses were not present, appellant and Nuscius continued the association on their own. No good purpose would be served by setting forth in detail all the lurid events in the record, such as their meetings in an alley and on farm land owned by Nuscius. On the latter occasion Mrs. Nuscius appeared on the scene and blows were exchanged. Appellant's explanation at the hearing as to the reason for her presence there, and the innocence of her role in the escapade is incredible, and we should appear fatuous indeed were we to accord it any consideration in this opinion. Appellee learned about ...


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