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Honig v. Honig

Supreme Court of Arizona

May 3, 1954


[77 Ariz. 248] Bumsted & Linsenmeyer, Phoenix, for appellant.

McKesson & Renaud, J. Gordon Cook, Phoenix, for appellee.

UDALL, Justice.

Plaintiff, Mary Ida Honig, filed suit for divorce from her husband, Joseph Honig, appellant here. Community property of the parties consisted of a tract of improved realty and the furnishings therein, estimated to be worth from $10,000 to $20,000 and $2,000 worth of corporate stock. The court granted the divorce, and as to the property decreed that the husband should have $250 and the wife should have the rest. The husband appeals from the decree, attacking this division of the property as grossly unfair, inequitable and a manifest abuse of discretion.

There is some small conflict in the evidence and of course all conflicts will be resolved in favor of the plaintiff-appellee. It is necessary to set forth the facts in some detail for proper understanding of the basis for the lower court's decree. The parties were married in San Francisco, California, November 21, 1930. Joseph Honig was about thirty-two years of age and Mary was about twenty-two. They soon discovered that Joseph was unable to earn a living in California and arrangements were made for their return to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the plaintiff's father owned and operated a lumber yard. Joseph began working at the lumber yard and for about three years he received no salary but did receive room and board for himself and his wife. Their son, Allen, was born in 1932, and the second son, David, was born in 1935. When Joseph did begin to receive a salary it was at the rate of $20 a

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week and continued at that rate until some time in the late 1930's when he began to receive $25 a week. Plaintiff's father gave the parties a down payment for a home and furnished the same for them. This was the 'Humboldt Street' property and will be referred to hereinafter. The parties also bought a duplex in Minneapolis for rental purposes.

After the year 1939 the parties began to lead separate lives, and in the interests of clarity we shall relate first the actions of the wife, then those of the husband. Plaintiff's health is bad; she has been afflicted with arthritis since childhood and to ease the pain from this the administration of [77 Ariz. 249] morphine is occasionally required, and, she has suffered from asthma. In 1939 she and her son David came to Arizona for her health, and they later returned to Minnesota. Late in the year 1940 she returned to Arizona with both sons and $1,000. She purchased a home at 908 N. 4th Street, in Phoenix, paying $475 down, assuming a first mortgage of $2,000, and giving a second mortgage of $500. With the balance of the $1,000 she purchased furnishings for the home. To secure an income to support herself and her children she immediately began renting rooms and taking in boarders. In 1941 she secured a Valley National Bank loan and built a bungalow on the property, the rent from which paid off the loan.

In September, 1942, her husband came to Phoenix to live, and at his insistence, in early 1943 she discontinued renting rooms and taking in boarders. About November, 1943, she began work for Goodyear Aircraft Corporation and worked there all during 1944 and the first two months of 1945. After she left Goodyear she began working for United Producers and Consumers Cooperative, and has worked there steadily ever since.

In the early part of 1946 plaintiff 'converted' the house so that there were three separate apartments therein, and with the bungalow which she had built in 1941 there were now four separate living quarters. The income from the rentals was sufficient to pay the taxes, the expenses of keeping the property in good repair, the electric, gas, water and telephone bills, and give the family a rent-free home.

From June, 1947 to June, 1948 plaintiff maintained her younger son, David, in a military academy, paying therefor the sum of $150 per month. From her earnings at work she was able to save up enough money to purchase approximately $2,000 worth of corporate stock. At the time of trial she was maintaining her son, David, in high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, paying therefor the sum of $27 per week.

As for the defendant, in 1940 he borrowed $1,000 from the Morris Plan in Minneapolis, and this was the money that plaintiff used to purchase the Phoenix property. Until September, 1942, he remained in Minneapolis, living with plaintiff's parents, collecting his weekly wage of $25, and collecting the rents from the Humboldt Street property and the duplex. He sent no money whatsoever to his wife to aid in supporting her or the children, but he did pay off the Morris Plan loan. At some time during 1942 he sold the Humboldt Street property, from which there was realized a net amount of $1205. Three hundred ninety dollars of this was used to pay off the second mortgage on the Phoenix property, and the balance was banked.

After coming to Phoenix, defendant worked for Sears Roebuck for 90 days, then became employed at Goodyear Aircraft Company, and during the year 1943 earned $1180, which he contributed to the [77 Ariz. 250] support of his family. The duplex in Minneapolis was sold in 1943, from which the parties realized the sum of $408, which was banked. During 1944 he worked for Keyston Brothers and earned $800. He spent one week in the real estate business with no results, and then went into the insurance business where he 'lost everything', that is, he lost all the money the parties had in the bank, together with a certain unknown amount of money which he had received from the estate of his deceased father. While in the insurance business he contributed nothing to the support of the family.

In July, 1945, defendant pulled up stakes and disappeared, later turning up at Mare

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Island, California. For three weeks he sent $50 each week to his family, and then the payments ceased and he was not heard from again until the summer of 1946, when his whereabouts was discovered through letters he had sent to his sons. Plaintiff at this time was very sick with asthma, and at the request of her parents, defendant returned to Phoenix to be with her. He stayed with her about a month, then dropped out of sight again. Six weeks later, August 20, 1946, he returned and spent the night at the family home, sleeping in the room with his son David who was extremely ill with a liver infection. When defendant arose in the morning he left the home and went to the bank, ...

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