No. 260 October Term, 1977, Appeal from the Order entered on September 30, 1976, by the Court of Common Pleas of Potter County, Civil Division-in Divorce at No. 184 of 1976.
Merle G. Johnson, Port Allegany, for appellant.
Harold B. Fink, Jr., Coudersport, for appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Watkins, former President Judge, and Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 258]
Appellant, Edith M. Howard, filed an action for divorce, charging indignities against appellee, on March 29, 1976. On May 24, 1976, appellee filed an answer and counterclaim. At the August 3, 1976, hearing, appellant withdrew her complaint, and the hearing proceeded on appellee's counterclaim, with appellant contesting. As a result of the hearing, the lower court entered a decree a. v. m. on September 30, 1976. For the reasons set forth herein, we reverse the lower court's order and remand the case for another hearing.
During the hearing, appellee testified to being embarrassed in public and inhibited around others as the result of his wife's visible jealousy. Appellee also testified that his wife refused to visit with company that came to their home, and that when his parents visited, appellant retired to the bedroom and shut the door. He testified that they never invited friends to their home or were invited out by others because of his wife's unfriendliness. Appellee, Prothonotary
[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 259]
of the Court of Common Pleas of Potter County, testified that while his wife was employed in the same office, she said many embarrassing things to him at work. When she was no longer employed in that office, she telephoned, according to appellee's testimony, to check up on him. There were also financial disputes, according to appellee, concerning his purchase of clothes and a snowmobile.
Appellant denied most of the assertions made by appellee. She said that she did not embarrass her husband on the specific occasions he enumerated. She denied being unreceptive to visitors, and said that people often visited them in their home. Mrs. Howard denied making telephone calls to her husband's office to check up on him. She said financial tensions were attributable to her thriftiness and to her disapproval of appellee's unnecessary expenditures when her daughter needed clothes. Mrs. Howard testified that the jealousy of which appellee complained was caused by her husband's association with his secretary. She testified that appellee knew how much this relationship bothered her, and so he teased her concerning it.
In spite of the drastic conflicts in the spouses' testimony, the opinion of the court below makes no reference to credibility. It is well established that while an appellate court enjoys a broad scope of review in divorce cases, great weight must be accorded findings of the master or lower court judge who personally observed the parties. Mintz v. Mintz, 258 Pa. Super. 187, 392 A.2d 747 (1978); Bristol v. Baranyi, 259 Pa. Super. 418, 393 A.2d 897 (1978). The court below made no reference to any of the specific incidents brought out in testimony. The court said simply:
"The Court is not wholly satisfied with the record of indignities in the instant case but it is nevertheless persuaded that the wife's behavior created a strained and distant relationship wherein constructive communication ceased and continued coexistence under the ...