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Hann v. Hann

Decided: August 25, 1980.


Tams, J.s.c.


[175 NJSuper Page 609] In this suit for separate maintenance the parties have been married for 40 years, during which time they resided in Pennsylvania and raised their six children. Plaintiff left defendant and moved to New Jersey. She filed her complaint in this court for separate maintenance, alleging that she was obliged to leave the

marital home because of defendant's extreme cruelty. Defendant was personally served with the complaint at the marital home in Pennsylvania.

Plaintiff filed a motion for pendente lite relief seeking primarily financial relief; however, she also sought to enjoin defendant from communicating with her in any manner and from harassing and threatening her. In her supporting affidavit plaintiff alleged that she has observed defendant drive around her place of employment many times and up and down the street where she resides. She further alleged that defendant has threatened to kill her.

Defendant countered plaintiff's motion with a motion to dismiss her complaint for lack of jurisdiction over his person, pursuant to R. 4:6-2(b), and to deny her application for pendente lite relief. Defendant did not file an answer to plaintiff's complaint; however, under R. 4:6-2(b) his motion to dismiss accompanied by a memorandum of law was procedurally proper. Defendant's affidavit in support of his motion and in opposition to plaintiff's motion was addressed primarily to the financial relief sought by plaintiff, denying that she demonstrated any need for support. His essential assertion in support of his claim of lack of personal jurisdiction was that neither plaintiff nor defendant had ever lived in New Jersey during the course of the marriage. His accompanying brief further addressed the jurisdictional issue.

A plenary hearing was held August 20, 1980 as to certain facts which, while alleged in affidavits, needed to be presented at an evidentiary hearing where they were subject to regular proof with cross-examination. From that hearing I determine as follows.

The parties were married on July 31, 1939 and lived their whole married life in Pennsylvania until plaintiff left defendant on February 8, 1980, allegedly as a result of his extreme cruelty to her. She came to live in New Jersey on that date and has lived in this State since, earning an income as a teacher in the public school system in Bordentown, New Jersey, as she had for some ten years before. During their marriage the parties

purchased two homes in joint names in New Jersey. The first, a single-family home on the waterfront in Salem, was bought in 1977 and was intended as a future retirement home; the other is a three-apartment house in Beverly. In connection with the Salem home, defendant and plaintiff made many trips there to do renovation work and to visit neighbors who had become friends. As to the Beverly house, they made numerous trips together and performed extensive work renovating the three apartments contained in the house. Both properties have been rented since their acquisition although they do little more than carry their own expenses.

I further find that after the parties separated defendant made a substantial number of excursions by car into New Jersey for the purpose of checking up on the activities of plaintiff, and that during this time he made several threats on plaintiff directly or impliedly by his actions and statements.

The issue presented is whether this court may exercise jurisdiction, either in personam or quasi in rem , in this matter.

Drobney v. Drobney , 146 N.J. Super. 317 (App.Div.1977), is similar to the present case. There the parties were divorced in Colorado where they had resided during marriage. Pursuant to an agreement incorporated in the divorce judgment, the wife retained custody of two of the four children of the marriage and received $50 a week per child in child support. She also received half of the proceeds of three mortgages on properties located in New Jersey. The wife then relinquished custody of one child and returned with the youngest child to New Jersey where she filed a complaint for increased child support and served the defendant personally in Colorado. She sought by pendente lite motion to have the increased child support satisfied out of defendant's share of the mortgage proceeds. Defendant as in this case filed a cross-motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, accompanied by an affidavit addressed to the merits. The trial judge granted defendant's cross-motion to dismiss. The ...

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