Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Dec. T., 1961, No. 159, in case of Irene M. Verbalis v. John R. Verbalis, an incompetent, by Jerome L. Cohen and Joseph Verbalis, his guardians.
Nicholas R. Degillio, for appellant.
Irene M. Verbalis, appellee, in propria persona.
Reverend Irvin C. Wise, for amicus curiae.
Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Flood, J., absent). Opinion by Hoffman, J. Wright and Watkins, JJ., would affirm on the opinion of the court below.
[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 88]
John R. Verbalis has appealed from the decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County granting a divorce a.v.m. to his wife Irene Verbalis.
As is our duty in divorce cases, we have examined the evidence de novo for the purpose of determining whether the charges alleged in the wife's complaint have been proven. In addition, we have made an independent investigation of the records of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County relating to a finding that the husband was mentally ill and to his commitment to a mental hospital. We have further examined the records of the Orphans' Court of that county which concern the appointment of guardians of the husband's estate.*fn1
[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 89]
On appeal, the wife appeared before us without counsel. We have, therefore, made a special effort to consider any contention which might have been presented on her behalf by counsel.
The parties were married on September 29, 1943. A complaint in divorce charging cruel and barbarous treatment and indignities was filed by the wife on October 6, 1961 and served personally on the husband on October 26, 1961. A master was appointed and notice of a hearing was served on the husband. The husband did not file an answer nor was there an entry of appearance by counsel on his behalf. He did not appear, either personally or by counsel, at the master's hearing. Only the wife testified before the master. Her testimony contained accounts of terrible beatings dating back to 1944 which would ordinarily support the granting of a divorce on the grounds charged in the complaint. The master believed her, for on December 26, 1961, he filed a report recommending that the divorce be granted.
During January, 1962, after the master's hearing, the husband was detained in the Luzerne County Prison on a charge of fraudulent conversion of property. On January 19, 1962, the warden of that prison petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County to commit the husband to a hospital for mental illness. Two qualified physicians examined the husband on January 23, 1962 and found him to be "mentally ill". Their ...