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ROSEMARY BUCKLEY WATSON v. WILLIAM R. WATSON (09/27/76)

decided: September 27, 1976.

ROSEMARY BUCKLEY WATSON
v.
WILLIAM R. WATSON, JR., APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Joseph P. Caranci, Jr., George J. McConchie, Media, for appellant.

Howard Richard, Alexander A. DiSanti, Michael A. Paul, Upper Darby, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 243 Pa. Super. Page 26]

Appellant contends that the lower court erred when it determined that the courts of Pennsylvania are not obligated to give his Nevada divorce full faith and credit.

The appellant, William Watson, Jr., a physician, and the appellee, Rosemary Buckley Watson, were married on June 12, 1943. During the course of their marriage, the parties had four children. The parties separated in September, 1963, at which time an agreed order of support in the amount of $100 per week was entered. On June 24, 1970, custody of the parties' youngest child, William Watson, III, was awarded to the appellant and a revised order of support for $110 per week was entered. On July 4, 1970, the appellant, together with his son William, left Pennsylvania and moved to Incline Village, Nevada.*fn1 Prior to his departure, the appellant voluntarily terminated his staff appointment at Bryn Mawr Hospital, rented his Pennsylvania home, and sold all his home furnishings. Appellant also arranged to begin the practice of medicine in a California hospital upon his arrival in Nevada.*fn2

After the appellant arrived in Nevada, he finalized his employment arrangements, and thereafter began his employment as the head of the emergency room, coronary care unit, and newborn nursery of a California hospital. Appellant also rented a furnished home in Incline

[ 243 Pa. Super. Page 27]

Village,*fn3 obtained a Nevada driver's license, registered his automobile in Nevada, and registered to vote, and voted, in Nevada. Appellant's son, William, was enrolled in and attended school in Nevada. On August 21, 1970, the appellant filed a complaint in divorce against appellee, and on September 22, 1970, a decree granting appellant's divorce from appellee was issued. Shortly thereafter, the appellant married Margaret Burgents in Nevada.

Appellant remained in Incline Village until April, 1972, at which time he, his wife Margaret and son, William returned to Pennsylvania. After agreeing to pay his tenant several months' rent as compensation for the tenant's inconvenience, the appellant was able to regain possession of his Pennsylvania home. Thereafter, the appellant applied for a Pennsylvania driver's license, registered his automobile in Pennsylvania, and registered to vote in Pennsylvania. In September, 1972, appellant and his second wife Margaret were separated. Appellant filed a complaint in divorce against his second wife in January, 1974. A divorce decree was issued on April 17, 1974. Shortly thereafter, appellant married for a third time.

Despite appellant's divorce from appellee, he continued paying the June 24, 1970 support award until January, 1975. On April 2, 1975, appellant filed a petition to vacate the support award and cancel all arrearages. Following appellee's answer, a hearing was held on April 25, 1975. On January 9, 1975, the lower court determined that the appellant's Nevada domicile was not bona fide, and, therefore, the Nevada divorce was not entitled to full faith and credit.*fn4 Thus, the lower court dismissed appellant's petition to vacate. This appeal followed.

[ 243 Pa. Super. Page 28]

It is well-established that a husband's obligation to support his wife is terminated by a valid divorce decree. See, e. g., Commonwealth ex rel. McVay v. McVay, 383 Pa. 70, 118 A.2d 144 (1955); Commonwealth ex rel. Esenwien v. Esenwien, 348 Pa. 455, 35 A.2d 335 (1944), aff'd sub nom. Esenwien v. Pennsylvania ex rel. Esenwien, 325 U.S. 279, 65 S.Ct. 1118, 89 L.Ed. 1608 (1945); Commonwealth ex rel. Lorusso v. Lorusso, 189 Pa. Super. 403, 150 A.2d 370 (1959); Commonwealth v. Petrosky, 168 Pa. Super. 232, 77 A.2d 647 (1951). Thus, if appellant's Nevada divorce decree is valid in Pennsylvania, the support order, as well as all arrearages accruing ...


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