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DOUGHERTY v. DOUGHERTY (04/22/75)

decided: April 22, 1975.

DOUGHERTY
v.
DOUGHERTY, APPELLANT



Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Family Division, of Philadelphia, Dec. T., 1970, No. 1895, in case of John Michael Dougherty v. Joan Marie Dougherty.

COUNSEL

Daniel Sherman, for appellant.

Daniel J. DiGiacomo, for appellee.

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

Author: Hoffman

[ 235 Pa. Super. Page 124]

In 1970, appellee-husband filed for a divorce a vinculo matrimonii*fn1 on the grounds of indignities. Appellant-wife filed a counterclaim similarly alleging indignities as a ground for divorce a mensa et thoro.*fn2 After a master heard testimony and made a report in 1973, the lower court entered a decree in divorce a.v.m. in favor of the husband. The wife appeals from that decree.

The following are the facts as developed at the master's hearing. The parties were married on October 2, 1954, in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Both parties testified that their marriage was normal until they were involved in a serious automobile accident in December of 1955. The wife, Joan Dougherty, suffered a concussion, a fractured pelvis, and a crushed heel as a result of the accident and was hospitalized until the spring of 1956. Subsequent to the accident, the couple went to live with the wife's mother. Thereafter, they lived in a series of homes finally purchasing a house in Philadelphia where they resided until the husband left in October, 1970. The parties have one child, John Michael, Jr., born in 1957. Few other "facts" concerning the course of the marriage were agreed to by both parties.

The husband testified as follows: The husband acknowledged that he and his wife had to move into his mother-in-law's home immediately after the accident because his wife was unable to manage a house by herself. He testified that he provided whatever assistance he could in maintaining the house, but that his long hours

[ 235 Pa. Super. Page 125]

    as a member of the Philadelphia Police Department made such domestic help difficult. His wife, however, complained constantly that he was not home often enough, that he should do more housework, and that he was running around with other women.

During 1957, after his wife's condition improved, the husband suggested that the couple move out and live on their own. The wife agreed, but once on their own, she continued to argue with her husband about lack of money and about purchases made for the home. She refused to do housework or to cook for her husband. When he offered to have his mother move in to help care for their home, the wife said "'I don't want anybody in this Goddamn house. This is my house. You are just going to have to help me yourself. If I can't cook, you will have to do your own.'" Despite his assistance, the wife was not placated. Finally, early one morning, after the husband had returned from his men's club, his wife pointed his police service revolver at him and said "'You God-damn lousy son-of-a-bitch bastard, I am going to kill you . . . Why don't you get out with your whore?'"

Subsequently, the couple purchased a home. Due to a back injury, the husband was no longer able to maintain a second, part-time job in addition to his police work. He, therefore, had trouble meeting their monthly financial commitments. Nonetheless, the wife constantly berated him for having a low-paying job and refused to cook for him or to maintain the house.

In June of 1961, the husband was injured in a motorcycle accident. Thereafter, he retired from the police force and took a job as a schoolbus driver. During that period of their marriage, he came home from work and found paper stuck in all the doors and the gas jets on the stove turned on. He found his wife and asked her what she was doing. ...


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