Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reid v. Reid case brief

Reid v. Reid case brief summary
375 S.E.2d 533 (1989)

Appellant husband challenged an order of the Circuit Court of Albermarle County (Virginia), which adopted the recommendations of the commissioner that the husband and appellee wife be denied a divorce on fault grounds, that a no fault divorce decree be entered, and that the husband be required to pay child and spousal support, a monetary award, and the wife's costs and attorney's fees.

The parties were married for 19 years and had four children. They experienced marital difficulties, underwent unsuccessful counseling, and the wife moved from the marital home. Two months later, the wife filed for divorce, claiming constructive desertion. The wife identified four marital problems that she alleged endangered her mental health and justified her leaving: (1) sexual inactivity, (2) the husband's excessive work habits, (3) the husband's failure to assist in the disciplining and rearing of their children, and (4) a lack of "intimacy within the marriage."

The lower court granted the parties a no fault divorce and awarded the wife spousal support.


  • On appeal, the court found that the wife was not justified in leaving the marriage. 
  • The court found that the husband's periodic impotency was not within his sole control, that his time away from the family while working to provide for them did not justify the wife's leaving, and that lack of intimacy was a risk in all marriages. 
  • The court held that because her response to these problems was to terminate marital cohabitation and to file for divorce, the wife legally deserted the marriage and forfeited her right to spousal support.
The court reversed and remanded the circuit court's order, holding that the circuit court erred in denying the husband a divorce on the ground of the wife's desertion and in granting her spousal support. The court vacated the award of attorney's fees and costs.

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