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MOYER v. MOYER (07/17/56)

July 17, 1956


Appeal, No. 76, Oct. T., 1956, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, April T., 1951, No. 75, in case of Stanley M. Moyer v. Dorothy F. Moyer. Decree reversed.


Emanuel H. Klein, for appellant.

Claire G. Biehm, for appellee.

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

Author: Wright

[ 181 Pa. Super. Page 402]


On April 20, 1951, Stanley M. Moyer instituted an action in divorce against his wife, Dorothy F. Moyer, charging indignities to the person. After disposing of rules for a bill of particulars and for counsel fee and alimony pendente lite, the lower court, on December 27, 1951, appointed a master. Twenty-two hearings were held in all, the last thereof being on July 13, 1953. The record contains 2134 pages. On August 13, 1954, the master filed his report recommending a divorce. Following the filing of exceptions and argument thereon, the lower court approved the recommendations of the master and, on September 2, 1955, entered a final decree. This appeal followed.

The husband was born in 1906 and the wife in 1910. They were married on September 7, 1932. The husband is a physician and has been practicing medicine continuously since the marriage. There are four children, two girls and two boys, all of whom were living with the parties during their marriage and at the time of the hearings, except that the elder daughter was attending a nurses training school. In 1940 the parties purchased a home at 519 Juniper Street, Quakertown, as tenants by the entireties, wherein they have resided ever since. The wife contributed her inheritance toward the purchase price. The husband has offices on the first floor of a portion of the dwelling. These offices are separate from the living quarters and have a separate entrance from the exterior. The husband makes no complaint of his wife's conduct prior to 1941, nor could he well do so. The wife worked extremely hard taking care of the offices, the dwelling quarters, and the children. She regularly cleaned the offices, even to the extent of scrubbing the floors. She did all the washing and ironing. She also made clothes

[ 181 Pa. Super. Page 403]

    for the children and for herself. In addition, she assisted her husband in his practice by taking telephone calls and greeting his patients. The husband did not give his wife an allowance for food or clothing, nor an allowance for her own personal needs. This was a very sore point and caused frequent arguments. The wife was reduced to asking her husband every time she needed money for her daily household needs or for her personal use. Although the wife wanted to go out socially with her husband, he rarely joined with his wife in social activities. He objected to his wife's smoking and taking a sociable drink, giving vent to frequent tirades on that subject, as well as the subject of his wife's housekeeping. For instance, while taking his wife to the hospital to be delivered of the third child, the husband told her she was not fit to have children, and that some day she would find out how much he despised her. As a result of the husband's conduct, the wife suffered from severe migraine headaches.

According to the bill of particulars, the husband's complaints concerning his wife's conduct commence with the year 1941. During that year the wife visited her aunt in Canada. On the return trip by train, the wife met a Canadian sailor who was identified at the hearing as a Mr. Roberts. Upon her return home she corresponded with Roberts, which correspondence ceased at the husband's request. The wife found nothing wrong in what she had done and strongly resented her husband's attitude. It should be here noted that the master states, not only with respect to this incident but also with respect to all the subsequent incidents which will be hereafter mentioned, "There is nothing in the record to indicate any adulterous relationship on the part of the defendant, and the master neither states or implies that the defendant was guilty of such

[ 181 Pa. Super. Page 404]

    misconduct". The wife's headaches were so aggravated by her husband's criticism and the ensuing disputes that, in 1942, she attempted to commit suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. The parties were thereafter reconciled.

In June 1942, the husband entered the military service of the United States. On July 10, 1943, he was assigned to duty in India. He returned to the United States in March 1945. Before leaving for overseas the husband made the unusual request that his wife write to him and reveal the details of any occasion which she spent in the presence of another man. Several of the incidents complained of in the bill of particulars were mentioned in the letters which the wife wrote to her husband every day. They are summarized in the opinion of the lower court as follows:

"The Defendant attended a radio program in Philadelphia and there met a Chief Petty Officer. After some conversation with him, the Defendant invited him to dinner. Subsequently, the officer accepted the invitation, had dinner with the Defendant at her home, and spent the night at the home of the Plaintiff's father, who was also a physician in the Borough of Quakertown. The Defendant told her husband that during ...

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