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Martinique v. Martinique

Decided: May 20, 1958.

HELEN MARTINIQUE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
IRVING MARTINIQUE, DEFENDANT



Hegarty, J.s.c.

Hegarty

Plaintiff married defendant on December 24, 1933, after an acquaintanceship of five years. It was the first marriage for each. Two children, a son, emancipated, and a daughter now attending nurse's training school, were born of this marriage. Plaintiff is 47 years of age and defendant is 50 years of age.

Plaintiff's complaint is for absolute divorce and charges defendant with the matrimonial offense of extreme cruelty. In answer, defendant denies the alleged cruelty and seeks dismissal of plaintiff's complaint. Defendant did not seek any affirmative relief.

Without narrating the details of the incidents of marital misconduct, it appears from the testimony of plaintiff, corroborated by Dr. Smollet, that defendant visited physical violence upon her, and, following the birth of their daughter, commenced a course of conduct towards her which made clear that he did not believe her statements that she was ill and in need of medical treatments; that his sexual demands were excessive and harming her health in that he would return home several afternoons a week for that purpose and would also gratify his sexual appetite by other acts at nighttime so that she was unable to get any rest at night. Although she complained to him that his conduct was fast taking its toll and that his excessive sexual demands and constant arguing had seriously impaired her health, he laughed and said, as his wife, it was her duty to appease him in every way. Twice she was hospitalized, once for a partial and the other time for a complete hysterectomy.

The doctor warned defendant not to engage in sexual relations following the operations. He belittled the doctors and said he hated them. The doctor's advice was ignored and he forced plaintiff to submit to him even though it caused her great discomfort and pain. Defendant said, "You can do it, you are sick in the head. I'll have you put away." On one occasion, in a fit of anger, in the presence of guests, defendant lifted up a chair and brought it crashing to the floor, in front of where plaintiff sat, with such great force and violence that the legs of the chair broke and defendant fell upon the demolished chair and broke his glasses. They slept together until October, 1953, when he tried to throw her from his bed. Thereafter she occupied a separate room in the house and from then on he never asked her to resume marital relations with him.

Dr. Joseph M. Smollet testified that he spoke to the plaintiff and defendant on a number of occasions. At that time plaintiff was extremely wrought and he tried to outline to defendant the need for conduct that would alleviate the condition. He warned defendant that plaintiff would be an institutional case if the situation continued. Plaintiff would go into a complete breakdown. He was satisfied that her condition was related to the home life. Defendant was asked by him to abstain from sexual relations because of the deleterious effect it was having on her health.

Defendant in his testimony denies ever having struck his wife or demanded excessive sexual relations. He does admit that there were many arguments, some of which he started. However, defendant's story is unsupported and his denial of the charged cruelty is not believed and does not overturn the strong proofs offered by plaintiff and by Dr. Smollet.

In the instant case the acts of cruelty were behind closed doors. In Smith v. Smith , 96 N.J. Eq. 59 (Ch. 1924) the court said:

"The rule of corroboration required no more, if nothing more can be produced, and it rarely can in cases of this sort of marital misconduct,

usually committed under cover and suffered in silence. Chancellor Walker, in Lasker v. Lasker , 91 N.J. Eq. 352, 110 A. 27, says:

'The doctrine that corroboration of petitioner's testimony need not be by witnesses to every fact, but that if sufficient corroboration exists as to certain facts, the testimony may be accepted throughout, is made to relieve petitioner in a case of hardship where she would be ...


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