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Bray v. Bray

Decided: June 12, 1961.

BRAY
v.
BRAY



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Baltimore City (MANLEY, J.).

The cause was argued before Brune, C. J., and Henderson, Prescott, Horney and Marbury, JJ.

Prescott

PRESCOTT, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is another unfortunate and distressing case involving the custody of a minor child of divorced parents. The father

of the child was granted an absolute divorce from its mother, on the ground of the mother's having committed adultery, and he was also awarded custody of the child. The mother has appealed only from the order, wherein the custody of the child was awarded to its father.

There is little, if any, dispute in the facts of the case. The parties were married in August, 1955, and lived together, without serious conflict, until approximately January 1, 1958. One child, a female, Nancy Lynn, the subject of this controversy, was born as issue of the marriage on March 29, 1957.

Friction between the couple arose as early as January, 1958, and, although they shared the same household thereafter, they ceased to live as man and wife. The husband left the home in July, 1958, and went to live in the home of a friend. He contends that he had become suspicious of his wife's conduct with one Elliot Annable, his own close friend and co-worker. The wife denied any improper conduct with Annable and claimed that her husband left her without cause.

After the separation in July, the wife and her child continued to live at their home, but when it was sold, she took an apartment, and later moved in with her mother in Westminster, Maryland. During this period of time, the husband visited the child on week-ends, and in May, 1959, he took the child to Maine to live with his relatives. Thereupon, the wife filed a bill of complaint alleging desertion and abandonment, and praying a divorce, custody and other relief. In July, 1959, a supplemental bill of complaint was filed in behalf of the wife and in August, she regained custody of the child and took it back to Baltimore to live with her. The husband answered his wife's bill and countered with a cross-bill alleging adultery, naming Elliot Annable as the paramour, and praying a divorce, custody and other relief, which the wife duly answered.

The testimony was taken in open court. After the testimony was concluded the court dismissed the wife's bill for divorce, granted the husband a divorce a vinculo matrimonii on his cross-bill on the ground of adultery, and awarded custody

of the child to the wife "subject to reconsideration on application of the father, William James Bray, after he has completed arrangements for the proper care of the said infant child." At this time, the father had not, in the opinion of the chancellor, completed satisfactory arrangements for the rearing of the child. A decree, as indicated above, was signed May 20, 1960, and on July 7, 1960, the husband petitioned the court to award him custody of the child inasmuch as he had "completed arrangements for the proper care of said infant child in accordance with the decree" of May 20, 1960. The wife answered this petition and the parties were heard on October 25, 1960, following a second investigation by the Probation Department.

During the period between the decree of May 20, 1960, and the hearing on October 25, 1960, the wife had married Elliot Annable and made her ...


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