Pfeiffer v. Pfeiffer.

Decision Date01 November 1948
Docket NumberNo. A-22.,A-22.
Citation61 A.2d 736
CourtNew Jersey Supreme Court


Appeal from former Court of Chancery.

Divorce suit by Bessie Cressey Pfeiffer against Frank Pfeiffer. From decree granting a divorce, defendant appeals.


Louis Auerbacher, Jr., of Newark, for appellant.

Herbert M. Ellend, of Newark, for respondent.

OLIPHANT, Justice.

This is an appeal from the former Court of Chancery from a decree granting a divorce to plaintiff-respondent on the grounds of extreme cruelty.

No opinion was filed by the Advisory Master who heard the cause, a practice much to be condemned.

The parties were married on May 1, 1922. Respondent was older than appellant and was possessed of considerable means. From the beginning appellant preferred to endeavor to live on money procured in devious ways from his wife rather than by working. He did little to support her. There was continual dissension between them regarding money matters. It is claimed appellant had a ‘terrible temper’ and that he was always threatening the life of his wife, swearing at her and calling her such names as ‘rat’ and ‘dumb-bell’. All of this culminated in respondent leaving appellant on March 30, 1942.

Failure to support a wife is not a cause for absolute divorce in this state; likewise marital discord and unhappiness arising from constant quarreling do not constitute extreme cruelty sufficient to entitle a party to a decree of divorce. Gilson v. Gilson, Err. & App. 1933, 113 N.J.Eq. 32, 166 A. 111.

The petition sets forth but one specific act of cruelty. The testimony reveals no corroboration whatever of this occurrence. The plaintiff related other occasions of so-called cruel treatment which were likewise uncorroborated except in one instance, three months before the separation, when defendant said to her ‘some day I will kill you.’

A divorce is never granted on the unsupported testimony of the complaining party. McShane v. McShane, Err. & App. 1888, 45 N.J.Eq. 341, 19 A. 465; Hague v. Hague, Err. & App. 1915, 85 N.J.Eq. 537, 96 A. 579. The public policy of this state is to preserve the marital status from dissolution by means of either uncorroborated or collusive testimony. Of course the corroboration need not necessarily be from the mouths of witnesses but may be found in the circumstances of the case, as shown by the expressions and conduct of the defendant, together with the letters of the parties. Shore v. Shore, Err. & App. 1924, 96 N.J.Eq. 661, 126 A. 320. The defendant here denied the accusation of cruelty and his letters do not sufficiently corroborate respondent's allegations.

Plaintiff further fails to meet the tests laid down in Bonardi v. Bonardi, Err. & App. 1933, 113 N.J.Eq. 25, 166 A. 207 and Stutz v. Stutz, Err. & App.1947, 139 N.J.Eq. 385, 51 A.2d 432 as to what constitutes ‘extreme cruelty’. She alleged her health...

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8 cases
  • Kazin v. Kazin
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • July 31, 1979
    ... ... E. g., Steinbrugge v. Steinbrugge, 2 N.J. 77, 65 A.2d 606 (1949); Capozzoli v. Capozzoli, 1 N.J. 540, 64 A.2d 440 (1949); Pfeiffer v. Pfeiffer, 1 N.J. 55, 61 A.2d 736 ... (1948). Decisions mirrored the severity of this legislative policy in dealing with foreign divorces ... ...
  • Crowell v. Crowell
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • December 7, 1954
    ...83 N.J.Eq. 150, 90 A. 311 (Ch.1914), affirmed, 84 N.J.Eq. 201, 93 A. 699 (E. & A. 1915); Becker v. Becker, supra; Pfeiffer v. Pfeiffer, 1 N.J. 55, 61 A.2d 736 (1948). Moreover to constitute desertion, the abstention form sexual relations must have been without just cause or reason. The wron......
  • Capodanno v. C. I. R.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • March 23, 1979
    ...Jersey required corroboration of the plaintiff spouse's claim for divorce from bed and board or absolute divorce. Pfeiffer v. Pfeiffer, 1 N.J. 55, 57, 61 A.2d 736 (1948); Streader v. Streader, 18 N.J.Super. 433, 436, 87 A.2d 338 (App.Div.1952). Corroboration is not required to support a sep......
  • Streader v. Streader
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • March 11, 1952
    ...affirmed 84 N.J.Eq. 201, 93 A. 699 (E. & A.1915); Becker v. Becker, 113 N.J.Eq. 286, 166 A. 489, 490 (Ch.1933); Pfeiffer v. Pfeiffer, 1 N.J. 55, 61 A.2d 736 (1948). Does the 'entire picture' revealed by the evidence carry with it 'a moral conviction that can be sensed from all the surroundi......
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