What Is A Voluntary Separation?


Anthony Matysek drank quite frequently and humiliated his wife on a number of occasions.  Following an argument with his wife, Marjorie Matysek, on the night of July 25, 1952, he repeatedly told her that she was “no good” and to “get out”.  She said “All right”, and early the next morning she moved to her mother’s home never to return.

Three years later, she sued for divorce based on a voluntary and mutually agreed separation.  Anthony denied that the separation was voluntary, and asserted that it was not by mutual agreement.

The Court of Appeals said that a voluntary agreement to live separate and apart does not have to be arrived at either with “calmness and courtesy or without anger”.

It distinguished the case of Miller v. Miller, where the husband threatened to leave the wife and she replied “Well if you want to go, go on and go, but you are going to have to take care of these children.”

The husband claimed that this amounted to a voluntary agreement to separate.  The court said it was merely to acquiescence in what she could not prevent, and that was not a voluntary agreement.

The difference in the Matysek case is that when the husband demanded that the wife leave, she could have refused.  Instead, she agreed to leave and she did leave.  The Court said:

We think that the language and conduct of the parties on the night of July 25th and the early morning of July 26th were sufficient to support the Chancellor’s explicit finding that the separation was voluntary. At the conclusion of the testimony he said: “I think these people separated voluntarily. They were glad to get away from each other.”

Matysek V. Matysek, 212 Md. 44; 128 A.2d 627 (1956)