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Woodhouse v. Woodhouse

Decided: May 31, 1954.

GENEVIEVE T. WOODHOUSE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
RICHARD P. WOODHOUSE, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



On appeal from Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported in 28 N.J. Super. 63.

For reversal -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For affirmance -- Justice Wachenfeld. The opinion of the court was delivered by Burling, J.

Burling

This is an appeal in a civil action, for the recovery of moneys due the plaintiff under a foreign judgment. The action was brought by the plaintiff, Genevieve T. Woodhouse, against her divorced husband, the defendant Richard P. Woodhouse. Judgment for the plaintiff was entered in the Superior Court, Law Division. Upon the defendant's appeal the Superior Court, Appellate Division, reversed, remanding the matter for redetermination of damages. 28 N.J. Super. 63 (App. Div. 1953). We allowed certification on the plaintiff's petition therefor. 14 N.J. 463 (1954).

The salient features of this litigation, forming the background of this appeal, are set forth in Mr. Justice Oliphant's opinion, in this court, in Woodhouse v. Woodhouse, 11 N.J. 225, 227 (1953), wherein the question involved, determined in favor of the plaintiff, was the validity of the Nevada decree of divorce upon which the judgment now under review is premised.

Upon the remand to the Superior Court, Law Division, the opposing claims were submitted to that court by the parties by stipulation, dated April 6, 1953, upon an agreed statement of facts.

The agreed statement of facts recited the Nevada divorce decree of March 26, 1948, incorporating by reference that

decree, and the separation agreement of February 4, 1948, which had been made a part of that decree by the Second Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada. The agreement so incorporated in the Nevada judgment expressly stated that the plaintiff agreed that the terms thereof were made "as and for and in full of her right and claim in and to any interest in the community property of herself and the first party, as well as in full of her right and claim to alimony, support and maintenance from the first party." It provided for payment of the plaintiff's income taxes, to the extent that it was "agreed that in computing the said sum the income realized by the second party under the terms hereof is to be regarded as the total income of the second party." The agreement further provided:

"6. The second party does by these presents agree, in the event that she in any year or years during the life of this agreement should realize any income from any source whatsoever other than from the first party hereto, she will accept a reduction in the periodic payments of money heretofore agreed by the first party to be paid to the second party -- said reduction to be in direct proportion to the sum of said income realized from any source or sources other than the first party." (emphasis supplied)

In addition to the foregoing, the agreement released to the plaintiff the defendant's interest in furniture, household furnishings and fixtures, and inter alia effected a release of dower and all other property rights she may have had in real or personal property of the defendant and was specifically made "a full and complete settlement of all property rights between the parties hereto as husband and wife," providing that in the event of divorce "this agreement shall be a full settlement of all property rights." The Nevada decree provided that "the agreement of the parties, dated February 4th, 1948, is adopted, ratified and approved and made a part of this decree by reference thereto."

In the agreed statement of facts under the stipulation of April 6, 1953, in the present suit, among other facts, the following expressions appear:

"During the calendar year 1950 defendant only paid $1575.00 on account of his alimony obligation and plaintiff by answers to ...


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