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Germain v. Germain

Decided: July 10, 1952.


On complaint for divorce on ground of extreme cruelty.

Ewart, J.s.c.


By a complaint filed November 19, 1951 plaintiff seeks a divorce from her husband, the defendant, because of his extreme cruelty extending for a period beginning in 1946 until April 1, 1951.

Defendant did not answer or enter an appearance and proofs were taken ex parte on June 12, June 26 and June 27, 1952.

The proofs satisfactorily establish that the parties hereto were married on January 11, 1941; that they have both resided continually in the State of New Jersey since that date, the plaintiff presently residing at High Bridge, N.J. and the defendant at Clinton, N.J.; that two children were born of the marriage, viz. Dominick Eugene, now ten years of age, and Raymond Anthony, four years of age, both of whom are in the custody of the plaintiff; that at the plaintiff's insistence the defendant left their home at High Bridge, N.J. on April 1, 1951, since which time they have not resided together or cohabited; and that the defendant has been and now is supporting his children by voluntary payments of $200 per month to the plaintiff, their mother.

And it further appears by the proofs that the defendant is a practicing physician, formerly practicing at High Bridge and now at Clinton, N.J., and that plaintiff is a registered

nurse; that they together established in June of 1947 a nursing home at or near High Bridge, distant about three miles from the home occupied by them and their children, and they together operated the nursing home until their separation on April 1, 1951. The home has a 21-bed capacity and the plaintiff, a registered nurse, has always been and still is in charge of the nursing home and works there regularly, in addition to taking care of her home and her children.

At the hearing on June 12, 1952 plaintiff testified that trouble between her and her husband first arose in 1946 when she accused him of using cocaine, which he denied, and they quarreled about it; again in 1947 and 1948 they quarrelled frequently over financial matters; sometime during that period (date not stated) he called her names, including a son of a bitch and used the expression "God damn you"; that on one occasion he pushed her against the kitchen sink and that on another occasion he raised his arm as if to strike her, but she called his attention to the presence of their son and he refrained from striking her. She testified that he never actually beat her and offered her no threat of physical violence except as mentioned above. She said that he first started using cocaine, afterwards started using demerol tablets, then demerol by needle, and afterwards morphine; that the drugs caused him to be exhilarated and the demerol made him sleep; that when using drugs he became moody and would fly into a temper on slight provocation which resulted in arguments between them; and further, that he spanked their elder boy more often than was necessary. Plaintiff further testified that the defendant would on occasion fall asleep while under the sedation of drugs and would drop burning cigarettes which resulted in holes being burned in the rugs, in the sheets, and in the mattress at their home. Also that after taking drugs he would at times become nauseated, would vomit, and she would have to clean up after him. Plaintiff testified that she was afraid of her husband; that she was under a constant strain and became very high-strung

and nervous; that she couldn't sleep well for a year or so before their separation; that her weight went down to 98 pounds but since the separation has increased back to 112 pounds; that prior to April 1, 1951 things were getting much worse; that the defendant slept most of the time, didn't take care of his medical practice, and lay around the home, slept, and watched television. That as a result of the conditions mentioned her life with her husband was "horrible"; that his conduct upset her; that she had a sort of breakdown and had to call in Dr. Henry Danzig sometime in April 1951 after her husband had departed.

Plaintiff testified that by reason of the foregoing she requested or demanded that the defendant leave the house and that he did depart on April 1, 1951, since which date he has not resided with her nor have they cohabited. Indeed, she testified that they had not cohabited for some months prior to his departure on the date mentioned. She also testified to having had pneumonia about a year before her husband's departure on April 1, 1951, at which time she was in the hospital but that she had not consulted a doctor from that time until April of 1951, after her husband's departure, when she called in Dr. Danzig.

Thomas E. Matthews, father of the plaintiff, testified that he had resided with the parties for approximately five years; that the defendant left the home on April 1, 1951 and has not since resided there; by his testimony he verified the plaintiff's statement as to residence; he testified to having heard arguments between the parties to this suit and having heard the defendant curse the plaintiff and call her a son of a bitch; and that the plaintiff became very nervous and upset and lost considerable weight, but that since her husband's departure on April 1, 1951 she has improved and looks and acts better at this time. This witness by his testimony also verified the fact that the defendant dropped lighted cigarettes which resulted in holes being burned in the rugs and sheets in the home. And also that on some trip with the defendant to a convention, when they took a

shower bath together, he observed needle marks on the defendant indicating the use of some drug by needle.

Dr. Henry Danzig testified that he had known the parties for three or four years and was socially friendly with them; that during April of 1951 he examined and treated the plaintiff whom he found suffering from nervous exhaustion; that she had lost weight; she complained ...

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