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BARR v. BARR (12/11/74)

decided: December 11, 1974.

BARR
v.
BARR, APPELLANT



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Dec. T., 1970, No. 91, in case of J. Victor Barr v. Dorothy Jean Barr.

COUNSEL

C. Richard Morton, for appellant.

Alexander Endy, for appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Spaeth, J. Jacobs, J., dissents.

Author: Spaeth

[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 10]

This is an appeal from an order dismissing exceptions to a master's report and entering a final decree in divorce a.v.m.

[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 11]

The parties were married on March 23, 1951. On December 17, 1970, the husband filed an action for divorce, alleging indignities to the person, in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County. The parties were each 44 years old and had two children (a girl, 15, and a boy, 9). A master was appointed and held hearings on April 17, 1972, and June 1, 1972. The husband's testimony may be summarized as follows: his wife was a poor housekeeper; she called him vile names in front of the children; she refused to attend social functions with him; she was never current with the laundry and ironing; she often refused to cook meals; four or five times she drank alcohol until she passed out on the sofa; and she would embarrass and berate him publicly.*fn1 The wife denied that she was a poor housekeeper.*fn2 She claimed to have accompanied her husband to every social function that she knew about, unless she could not get a baby sitter. She denied that she was tardy with the laundry, or that she did not cook meals. She said she never drank alcohol to the point of passing out.

While the master found much of the husband's testimony credible, she did not accept his allegations as to his wife's poor housekeeping, her inefficiency with the laundry, or her refusal to attend social functions as grounds for divorce. The master did, however, find that the general course of the wife's conduct over the past ten years showed that hate and estrangement had replaced love and affection, making the husband's life intolerable and burdensome and thus constituting indignities to the person. See Giuffre v. Giuffre, 187 Pa. Superior Ct. 154, 144 A.2d 477 (1958). Accordingly,

[ 232 Pa. Super. Page 12]

    in her report, which was filed on December 15, 1972, she recommended that a divorce be granted.

The court below interpreted the wife's exceptions to the master's report as making two arguments. The first was that the master had not given sufficient attention to evidence, not denied by the husband, of infidelity. The second concerned certain evidence regarding the wife's mental condition. The court found the evidence of infidelity irrelevant, and the evidence of the wife's mental condition insufficient to show "that the conduct complained of was caused by [the wife's] mental condition."

As is our duty, we have made an independent review of the record. See Arcure v. Arcure, 219 Pa. Superior Ct. 415, 281 A.2d 694 (1971); Benscoter v. Benscoter, 200 Pa. Superior Ct. 251, 188 A.2d 859 (1963). We have concluded that it is ...


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