Appeal from orders of Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, Sept. T., 1970, No. 128, in case of Virginia L. Griffie v. Ray E. Griffie.
J. Boyd Landis, with him Landis, McIntosh & Black, for appellant.
William F. Martson, with him Martson and Snelbaker, for appellee.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Spaulding, J. Wright, P. J., and Jacobs, J., would affirm the order of the court below.
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Appellant Virginia Griffie appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County
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overruling the findings of a Master and dismissing appellant's complaint in divorce a.v.m.*fn1 Appellant brought this action pursuant to § 10 of The Divorce Law of 1929 contending that she is entitled to a divorce because of indignities to her person by the appellee rendering her condition intolerable and life burdensome.*fn2 It is our duty to make an independent study of the evidence and then determine whether a legal cause of divorce exists. Eifert v. Eifert, 219 Pa. Superior Ct. 373, 281 A.2d 657 (1971); Goldfine v. Goldfine, 201 Pa. Superior Ct. 462, 193 A.2d 695 (1963). While the Master's findings of fact and recommendation that a divorce be granted are only advisory, where the issue is one of credibility and the Master is the one who heard and observed the witnesses, his findings should be given fullest consideration. Yohey v. Yohey, 205 Pa. Superior Ct. 329, 208 A.2d 902 (1965); Green v. Green, 182 Pa. Superior Ct. 287, 126 A.2d 477 (1956).
The parties were married in 1953 and have four children ranging in age from 6 to 16 years. The parties have become bitterly hostile toward each other. In the course of these proceedings appellant admitted having engaged in an extra-marital affair which was terminated
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in January 1968. Her husband had previous knowledge of this. In September 1970, appellant moved from the joint homes of the parties to the home of her mother.
Appellant contends that she is entitled to a divorce based on testimony indicating that the appellee was frequently intoxicated and while in such condition was involved in three automobile accidents, slept on the front lawn, vomited throughout the house, provoked frequent arguments, threatened physical violence and made excessive sexual demands. Appellee disputes the severity of the incidents involved and further urges that his conduct, even if it did constitute grounds for divorce, was proper retaliation for appellant's affair in 1968.
The law of Pennsylvania is well settled that while mere drunkenness per se, no matter how excessive, is not an indignity, Shoemaker v. Shoemaker, 199 Pa. Superior Ct. 61, 72, 184 A.2d 282 (1962); Egolf v. Egolf, 53 Pa. Superior Ct. 254 (1913), such indignities themselves are not excused because committed while intoxicated or caused by intoxicants. Shoemaker, supra; Cowher v. Cowher, 172 Pa. Superior Ct. 98, 101, 91 A.2d 304 (1952). Indignities may consist of vulgarity, habitual humiliating treatment, intentional incivility, abusive language, malignant ridicule, and any other manifestation of settled hate and estrangement which is an affront to, and displays a lack of reverence for, the personality of one's spouse. Yohey, supra; D'Alessandro v. D'Alessandro, 187 Pa. Superior Ct. 194, 144 A.2d 445 (1958). "The offense is complete when a continued and persistent course of conduct demonstrates that the love ...