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Smith v. Smith

Decided: November 18, 1964.

VICTORIA W. SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RICHARD S. SMITH, DEFENDANT



Polow, J.J.D.R.C.

Polow

This opinion will provide the statement required by R.R. 6:3-11 of reasons for the determination entered by order dated October 16, 1964, filed November 6, 1964, reducing defendant's obligation for support of two infant children from $60 to $30 per week, after plaintiff had removed the children from this State to Florida to seek a divorce.

The matter was first heard on May 13, 1964. Testimony at that hearing established the following facts: Plaintiff and defendant are 25 and 28 years of age respectively. They were married August 15, 1959, in Morristown, and had

lived together in the Morristown area from that date until they separated on April 3, 1964. Plaintiff then left their jointly owned home taking with her the two infant children of the marriage, a boy under two and a girl just over three years of age. Plaintiff sought to justify her leaving by her testimony concerning alleged repeated abusive conduct by defendant while under varying degrees of alcoholic influence.

Although plaintiff declined to attribute to defendant the characteristics of a "drunk" or an "alcoholic" she nevertheless insisted that he drinks excessively and becomes nasty when drinking. She described numerous scenes including slapping, pushing, pulling and threats of physical harm, commencing in June 1960 and culminating on April 3, 1964, at which time she told defendant that she was leaving "to think things over."

She described defendant, a Princeton graduate employed by the General Electric Credit Corporation as manager of its Morristown office at $8,500 a year, as a generous, good husband who becomes nasty and abusive when drunk. He customarily has a couple of drinks on his way home from work and then two or three more before dinner. He has been unwilling or unable to cope effectively with this problem and she described an intense fear of his violent temper. On the other hand, she does not deny that he loves his children and they love him.

At the suggestion of the court and with consent of counsel no determination was made on plaintiff's application for support for herself at the original hearing but the matter was continued and both parties ordered to consult with a psychiatrist appointed by the court at the expense of defendant. During that interim period defendant agreed to pay the sum of $40 per week for support of the two children and visitation privileges were established.

Thereafter, the parties made six visits to the court-appointed psychiatrist during May and June of 1964 and two reports were sent by the doctor to the court through the probation department. On June 19, 1964 the parties again

appeared before the court. They advised that they had been visiting the psychiatrist and future visits were contemplated. Plaintiff was still unwilling to return to defendant but both parties indicated they would continue to seek marital guidance. They had been "dating" each other and defendant was permitted to visit with the children.

In his first report dated June 1, 1964, the psychiatrist indicated his concern about the children and his concurrence with the court's opinion that these parties should not be separated and that "their marriage, for at least the children's sake deserves another chance." He further indicated that they were both in need of marital counselling and that the blame rested with both parties, who were equally guilty of shirking their marital responsibilities. However, in his second report dated July 4, 1964, the psychiatrist concluded that "even though I dislike seeing these people separate, I have concluded that their personalities are so incompatible that they will never make their marriage work." The first report was more favorable toward defendant but the second report leaned somewhat in favor of plaintiff.

The parties appeared in court again on July 9, 1964, at which time plaintiff would no longer consider a reconciliation although defendant was steadfast in his profession of love for his wife and his desire that his family return to live with him. Plaintiff did not dispute the sincerity of his professed feelings but insisted that he was ...


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