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decided: November 22, 1976.


Appeal from the Order of August 1, 1975, of the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County, Civil Action, Law, at No. 54 January Term, 1975. No. 1932 October Term, 1975.


Lawrence M. Klemow, Hazleton, for appellant.

Joseph G. Greco, Nesquehoning, for appellee.

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

Author: Price

[ 245 Pa. Super. Page 268]

This appeal is taken from an order of the court below sustaining exceptions to a master's report and granting a divorce a vinculo matrimonii. Appellant, Joan I. DeBias, was the defendant in an action for divorce filed by appellee, Edward J. DeBias. Appellee's complaint claimed indignities*fn1 as the ground upon which divorce was sought. A hearing was held on December 27, 1974, before a master, resulting in the master's recommendation that the complaint be dismissed. A second master's hearing was held on April 2, 1975, at which time additional testimony was taken on behalf of appellee. The master again recommended dismissal of the complaint. The court below sustained objections to the master's findings and, on the basis of the record, granted a divorce on August 1, 1975. It is from that order that this appeal is taken. We reverse. After comprehensive review, pursuant to the scope of our appellate role in this

[ 245 Pa. Super. Page 269]

    situation, we assent to the master's recommendation and commend his thoroughness and accuracy in this case.

Appellee alleged the following as examples of conduct by appellant constituting indignities: (1) that appellant repeatedly called appellee vulgar names in private and in public, and that this conduct often took place before their children; (2) that appellant embarrassed appellee at a banquet with a rude and profane reply to a question from a friend of appellee; (3) that appellant publicly nagged and criticized appellee, causing him humiliation; (4) that appellee's health was impaired as a result of appellant's behavior toward him; (5) that appellant, during arguments with appellee, often became enraged and threw objects at him, such as a coffee cup, dishes, pots, pans and appellee's wristwatch; and (6) that appellant repeatedly and unjustly accused appellee, in private and before their children, of having sexual relations with others. These events and actions purportedly took place from December, 1973 to April, 1974.*fn2

At the first master's hearing, appellee's testimony was substantially a reiteration of the allegations stated above, with the addition of a claim that appellant once allegedly threatened to "blow his head off" with a shotgun. Appellant's version of their marital problems differed, in several aspects, from appellee's. Appellant testified that her marriage to appellee was happy until sometime in December of 1973.*fn3 It was then that appellant began to suspect her husband of seeing another woman. Her speculations were apparently based both on information received from others and on her own observations. She stated that appellee would come home at 4:00 a. m. or later approximately twice a week, with wrinkled clothes, swollen eyes and red marks on his neck. Appellant found lipstick and makeup, which she knew definitely

[ 245 Pa. Super. Page 270]

    not to be hers, upon appellee's clothes. Appellant asserted that there was also a drastic change in the couple's sexual relationship around this time. Appellee, who had previously been very affectionate, consistently rejected her in the marital bed. Appellee's only explanation for his late hours was that he was bowling or at the local firehouse. He denied that lipstick and makeup were to be found on his clothes. His only explanation for repulsing appellant's affectionate advances was that "he just didn't feel like it."

Appellant testified that it was this behavior on the part of appellee that led to confrontations between them, arguments, name calling, and the throwing of various articles. Appellant admitted often calling appellee vulgar names in private and twice assailing him in the presence of their children, but denied ever doing so in public. She admitted throwing objects at appellee on several occasions, but denied ever hitting him. She denied ever menacing appellee with a shotgun or threatening to shoot him. Appellant stated that she had repeatedly accused her husband of infidelity, but that she did then and still does reasonably believe her accusations to be true. Appellant thus acknowledged the conduct represented as ...

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