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Plaintiff Seeks Divorce on Grounds of Cruelty and Abandonment


The respondent and appellant in this case is Patricia W. Vanderbilt. The appellant and respondent in the matter is Cornelius Vanderbilt. The receiver and Sequestrator and respondent in this case is Thomas F. McCoy. This case is being heard in the Court of Appeals in the state of New York. The question that is being put in front of the court is the applicability of the Civil Practice Act in a divorce, separation, or annulment case.

Case Background

The plaintiff was living in Nevada in 1948 and the defendant was living in California. The couple was married in the state of Connecticut and then established their home in the state of California. The couple traveled throughout the United States and Europe during the course of their marriage. In September of 1952, the couple separated. When the couple separated, the wife moved to New York City. In October of 1952 she sued for a separation decree in a New York Court. This suit was dismissed by the court based on the one year residency requirement. The plaintiff visited California for a brief time and then returned to New York in 1953 and has lived in the state ever since.

A New York Custody Lawyer said on March of 1953, the defendant husband brought forth a suite for divorce in Nevada. The wife was served with this process in New York. She did not answer the suit or appear in the court. In June of 1953 a divorce decree was issued by the Nevada court in favor of the husband.

In April of 1954, the plaintiff commenced this action in the New York Supreme Court seeking service through publication of the summons and sequestration of the defendant’s assets. The plaintiff asked for separation on the basis of cruelty and abandonment and sough an award of alimony. A Nassau County Family Lawyer said the defendant moved to vacate the sequestration and to dismiss this action based on the fact that the marriage no longer existed. The defendant also argues that there is no matrimonial domicile or status in the state of New York.

The case went to trial and the plaintiff proceeded to testify about the alleged acts of cruelty and abandonment. The defendant did not take the stand during the trial and did not deny these allegations.

The trial court denied the dismissal motions of the defendant and awarded the plaintiff alimony in the amount of $250 a week as well as $3500 for her counsel fees and expenses. A Nassau County Custody Lawyer said the support money was to be paid from June 8, 1954 on, which was the date that this action began.

Court Discussion and Decision

The court has reviewed the facts of the case and finds that the trial court was in error when they awarded the wife alimony in this case. When the judgment for divorce was granted in the state of Nevada, the plaintiff did not have any standing in the state of New York for maintaining this current action for separation. The plaintiff wife therefore has no right to invoke the benefits that were given to her by the court. The husband is not a resident of New York, the marriage did not take place in this state, and therefore the wife does not have the standing for this action for separation. The complaint should have been dismissed.

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