On appeal from the Superior Court, Appellate Division.
For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J.
This marital litigation is founded on the activities of wives Nos. 4 and 5, so referred to in the briefs. Lamentably, the record is silent as to the fate of the earlier numbered spouses, which might under the circumstances have been of interest.
Wife No. 4, Elsie, married the defendant in London, England, in September 1943. In March 1949 the defendant obtained a decree of divorce against her in Arkansas.
About two weeks after the Arkansas divorce, the defendant married the plaintiff in the instant cause, Helen, wife No. 5. Subsequently she filed a divorce complaint against him in our Superior Court based upon extreme cruelty.
Shore filed an answer denying the cruelty and later amended to claim condonation. Still later he filed a further amendment alleging as a second separate defense that the
Arkansas divorce obtained by him from wife No. 4, Elsie, was void because he was not a bona fide resident in that jurisdiction at the time of suit. In another separate defense he averred the plaintiff Helen had influenced and induced him to obtain the divorce.
When the matter came on for hearing, Shore proceeded with the testimony attempting to support his separate defenses, introduced the Arkansas decree, but before the hearings were finally concluded, asked leave to withdraw his answer, which was granted. Thereafter the court, apparently being convinced by the plaintiff's proof, entered judgment in her favor on June 5, 1951.
While Shore in our jurisdiction was alternately pressing his respective defenses and abandoning them, permitting the plaintiff to proceed without further opposition, there was instituted by wife No. 4, Elsie, a suit for divorce against him in the Supreme Court of the State of New York alleging adultery, in which she sought to set aside the Arkansas divorce as a fraud on the New York courts and to obtain a judgment for divorce against the defendant because of improper relations with the plaintiff in this suit, Helen, wife No. 5.
The defendant filed an answer setting up the Arkansas decree and supporting its validity but then, following closely the pattern adopted in the New Jersey litigation, withdrew his answer and permitted the wife to proceed ex parte, resulting in the judgment being entered against him holding the Arkansas decree void as a fraud on the New York court and granting the wife a divorce based upon his adultery with the New Jersey plaintiff, Helen.
The defendant at the same time was endeavoring in New York to sustain the validity of the Arkansas decree while in New Jersey he was inconsistently disavowing it.
After the entry of judgment in New York, the defendant filed a petition in our Superior Court asking that the judgment nisi be vacated and not made absolute and requesting a new hearing on ...