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MARCH ESTATE (06/30/67)

decided: June 30, 1967.

MARCH ESTATE


Appeal from decree of Orphans' Court of York County, dated June 22, 1966, in re estate of Howard R. March, Sr., deceased.

COUNSEL

Gibson Smith, Jr., for appellants.

W. Burg Anstine, with him Anstine & Anstine, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Roberts concurs in the result. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Bell

[ 426 Pa. Page 365]

This case arose in the Orphans' Court of York County sur a petition to vacate a widow's election to take against her (divorced?) husband's will. The sole issue on appeal is whether the Court below was correct in holding that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Federal Constitution, Art. IV, ยง 1, did not require it to honor this Nevada divorce decree. That decree granted to March in June 1962, purported to dissolve the marriage upon which the election of the present appellee is based.

March was born and lived most of his life in York County, Pennsylvania, where he conducted a real estate business as a duly licensed real estate broker. March's first marriage resulted in the birth of seven children, who under his will dated May 26, 1964, are his sole legatees. After the termination of this marriage,*fn1 he married appellee on June 30, 1955, and established a

[ 426 Pa. Page 366]

    marital domicile in York County, where he and appellee cohabited as husband and wife until June 1956, when they separated.

In February 1962, March leased his house in York County, and in March 1962 he voluntarily surrendered his real estate broker's license and requested that it be held as "inactive." In April 1962, he moved to Nevada and resided at a motel.

On June 1, 1962, March instituted an action in divorce against the appellee in the District Court of Ormsby County, Nevada. March's complaint in divorce was served on appellee in York, Pennsylvania, by mail (in accordance with the law of Nevada), and she was also given notice of the divorce suit by publication in Nevada, in accordance with the law of Nevada; however, she was never served with any process in Nevada, nor did she enter an appearance, nor was she represented in the divorce suit.

On June 11, 1962, appellee filed a bill in equity in York County seeking an injunction against March to enjoin him from proceeding with the Nevada divorce action. The Court of Common Pleas of York County granted a preliminary injunction. March was not personally served in the injunction proceedings, but service of the bill in equity was made on the York County attorney who had been previously employed at various times by March. March received notice in Nevada of this York County injunction before his Nevada divorce decree became final on June 29, 1962, but he was never served with any papers within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The facts are somewhat unusual and therefore will be recited at some length. March, after obtaining the Nevada divorce, continued to reside in Nevada until April 1963. During this time he did not own real estate, nor did he operate any business in ...


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