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Haymes v. Haymes - 221 A.D.2d 73, 646 N.Y.S.2d 315 (App. Div. 1996)

Rule:

An estranged couple's attempt at reconciliation, which included brief and isolated resumption of sexual relations, after a matrimonial action was already commenced did not preclude an entry of judgment in favor of the spouse who originally had an otherwise valid claim for abandonment.

Facts:

A wife filed an action for divorce on grounds including actual and constructive abandonment based on the husband having left the marital home to live apart from her and having abstained from sexual relations with her for a year or more. Pending trial, the parties unsuccessfully attempted reconciliation for six weeks, during which they engaged in sexual intercourse. The trial court, therefore, barred wife's abandonment claims as a matter of law on husband's oral motion. The wife appealed.

Issue:

Did the trial court error in dismissing a wife's action for divorce based on her claims of actual and constructive abandonment?

Answer:

Yes. An attempt at reconciliation, which included brief and isolated resumption of sexual relations, did not preclude an entry of judgment of divorce in favor of a spouse who originally had an otherwise valid claim for abandonment.

Conclusion:

The court reversed the order of the trial court granting partial summary judgment to the husband, which dismissed wife's abandonment claims. The claims were reinstated, and remanded for trial. The court held that the trial court had impliedly and improperly resolved disputed questions of fact without taking testimony by dismissing the claims without affording wife an opportunity to establish her version of the marriage's disintegration or to prove that husband did not make a good-faith effort to reconcile. The court further held that an estranged couple's attempt at reconciliation, even including brief and isolated resumption of sexual relations, after a matrimonial action was already commenced did not preclude an entry of judgment in favor of the spouse who originally had an otherwise valid claim for abandonment.

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