Appeal, No. 24, April T., 1959, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, May T., 1957, No. 121, in case of Pearl A. Jones v. Russell E. Jones. Decree reversed.
Barron P. McCune, with him McCune and Greenlee, for appellant.
Sanford S. Finder, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ.
[ 189 Pa. Super. Page 462]
This is an appeal from the decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County granting a divorce to Russell E. Jones, the appellee, from Pearl A. Jones, the appellant, on the ground to desertion. The parties were married on April 26, 1926, in Cumberland, Maryland. At the time of the hearing both were 52 years of age. There is one child, Charlotte Mae Shronovich, who is of age and married.
[ 189 Pa. Super. Page 463]
The marriage was not a happy one, the parties were separated on a number of occasions. The first separation occurred in 1938 for a period of three or four months. They were again separated in 1943 when the husband left his wife and child and set up a separate domicile and it was not until 1947 the wife rejoined her husband. However, she left him finally on February 15, 1953, and this action by the appellee followed after the passage of the statutory period. The master recommended a divorce and the majority of the court below, with President Judge CARSON dissenting, dismissed the exceptions to the master's report and granted the decree.
The principal issue in this appeal is whether the appellee wife had reasonable cause to leave her husband on February 15, 1953, so that she was not guilty of wilful and malicious desertion. Act of May 2, 1929, P.L. 1237, § 10; Act of March 19, 1943, P.L. 21, § 1; 23 PS § 10.
After a careful study of this record we are convinced that the wife sustained her burden of proving reasonable cause for leaving by an overwhelming preponderance of the evidence and that this husband failed in his burden of proving himself an injured and innocent spouse. Soper v. Soper, 178 Pa. Superior Ct. 182, 186, 112 A.2d 420 (1955).
During the second separation from 1943 to 1947 the appellee lived in the same house, together and alone, with a certain Betty Gamble, in Hostetter, Pennsylvania. He claims she was merely his housekeeper but admits that people in the community called her Mrs. Jones. His daughter and son-in-law, Charlotte Mae Shronovich and Frank Shronovich, with whom he must have been on good terms, because of the evidence that ...