Mr. Frederick M. Myers, of Pittsfield, Mass., for petitioner.
Messrs. Lincoln S. Cain and Robert T. Capeless, both of Pittsfield, Mass., for respondent.
Mr. Chief Justice VINSON delivered the opinion of the Court.
We granted certiorari in this case and in Coe v. Coe, 334 U.S. 378 , to consider the contention of petitioners that Massachusetts has failed to accord full faith and credit to decrees of divorce rendered by courts of sister States. 1 [334 U.S. 343 , 345] Petitioner Margaret E. Sherrer and the respondent, Edward C. Sherrer, were married in New Jersey in 1930, and from 1932 until April 3, 1944, lived together in Monterey, Massachusetts. Following a long period of marital discord, petitioner, accompanied by the two children of the marriage, left Massachusetts on the latter date, ostensibly for the purpose of spending a vacation in the State of Florida. Shortly after her arrival in Florida, however, petitioner informed her husband that she did not intend to return to him. Petitioner obtained housing accommodations in Florida, placed her older child in school, and secured employment for herself.
On July 6, 1944, a bill of complaint for divorce was filed at petitioner's direction in the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida. 2 The bill alleged extreme cruelty as grounds for divorce and also alleged that petitioner was a 'bona fide resident of the State of Florida.' 3 The respondentr eceived notice by mail of the pendency of the divorce proceedings. He retained Florida counsel who entered a general appearance and filed an answer denying the allegations of petitioner's com- [334 U.S. 343 , 346] plaint, including the allegation as to petitioner's Florida residence. 4
On November 14, 1944, hearings were held in the divorce proceedings. Respondent appeared personally to testify with respect to a stipulation entered into by the parties relating to the custody of the children. 5 Throughout the entire proceedings respondent was represented by counsel. 6 Petitioner introduced evidence to establish her Florida residence and testified generally to the allegations of her complaint. Counsel for respondent failed to cross-examine or to introduce evidence in rebuttal.
The Florida court on November 29, 1944, entered a decree of divorce after specifically finding 'that petitioner is a bona fide resident of the State of Florida, and that this court has jurisdiction of the parties and the subject matter in said cause; * * *' Respondent failed to challenge the decree by appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. 7 [334 U.S. 343 , 347] On December 1, 1944, petitioner was married in Florida to one Henry A. Phelps, whom petitioner had known while both were residing in Massachusetts and wno had come to Florida shortly after petitioner's arrival in that State. Phelps and petitioner lived together as husband and wife in Florida, where they were both employed, until February 5, 1945, when they returned to Massachusetts.
In June, 1945, respondent instituted an action in the Probate Court of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, which has given rise to the issues of this case. Respondent alleged that he is the lawful husband of petitioner, that the Florida decree of divorce is invalid, and that petitioner's subsequent marriage is void. Respondet prayed that he might be permitted to convey his real estate as if he were sole and that the court declare that he was living apart from his wife for justifiable cause. 8 Petitioner joined issue on respondent's allegations.
In the proceedings which followed, petitioner gave testimony in defense of the validity of the Florida divorce decree. 9 The Probate Court, however, resolved the issues of fact adversely to petitioner's contentions, found that [334 U.S. 343 , 348] she was never domiciled in Florida, and granted respondent the relief he had requested. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed the decree on the grounds that it was supported by the evidence and that the requirements of full faith and credit did not preclude the Massachusetts courts from reexamining the finding of domicile made by the Florida court.