Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, of Allegheny County, No. 929 of 1973, in case of Florence I. White v. Thomas S. White.
George E. Schumacher, for appellant.
Gilbert M. Gerber, for appellee.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. (Spaulding, J., absent). Opinion by Hoffman, J. Concurring Opinion by Spaeth, J.
[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 500]
This is an appeal from an order of support in favor of the wife-appellee, requiring the husband-appellant to pay $600.00 per month plus all reasonable medical and dental expenses.
The wife brought an action under The Pennsylvania Civil Procedural Support Law*fn1 seeking support from her husband, who allegedly deserted her after more than seven years of marriage. Upon hearing in open court, the lower court awarded the wife $600.00 per month. Appellant appeals from this Order, raising several contentions of error.
During the course of the hearing, appellant sought to introduce evidence to show that his alleged "desertion" was prompted by his wife's behavior which constituted "indignities to his person". In addition thereto, appellant offered to admit a post-nuptial agreement to show that his wife had waived her right to future support in consideration for $1,000.00. Appellant argues that both of the above offers of proof would have relieved him of his obligation to support his wife. Finally, appellant sought the court's permission to question his wife and to establish by independent evidence that she was employable, thereby supplying a basis for a reduced order of support.
[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 501]
It can generally be said that a husband has an absolute moral and legal obligation to support his wife.*fn2 There are, however, circumstances under which he is justified in refusing such support or in reducing his obligation to do so. Keeth v. Keeth, 223 Pa. Superior Ct. 96, 289 A.2d 732 (1972); Commonwealth ex rel. Lazarou v. Lazarou, 180 Pa. Superior Ct. 342, 119 A.2d 605 (1956).
In an effort to establish that indignities committed by his wife had prompted his separation from the marital residence, the appellant offered to bring in a number of witnesses to corroborate his testimony regarding various instances where he had been insulted, inexcusably chided, and derogated in public by his wife. The hearing judge refused the offered evidence, saying:
"I could understand your position if you come in and say this woman is living in open adultery but on a ground like indignities you are going to take up the Court's time, two or three days, trying to deny this woman support. . . .
". . . [F]ar be it for me to try to tell lawyers what the law is. I think you better read up on the support law . . . . [H]e left her and it is incumbent upon him to prove grounds for divorce ...