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Hopkins v. Hopkins

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex County

January 5, 1953

HOPKINS
v.
HOPKINS.

Wife brought suit for divorce against husband. During pendency of the suit the wife filed application for reimbursement for detective fees paid by her. The Superior Court, Herrmann, J., held that wife was not entitled to reimbursement under statute providing that court may order husband to pay such sums as may be deemed ‘ necessary’ to defray expenses of wife in divorce suit.

Application denied.

[47 Del. 516] Daniel J. Layton, Jr., of Georgetown, for plaintiff.

Houston Wilson and Jack White, both of Georgetown, for defendant.

HERRMANN, Judge.

The plaintiff brought this action for divorce upon the ground of adultery. Prior to the commencement of the action, the plaintiff employed private detectives to procure evidence of her husband's infidelity. The services of the detectives were completely performed before the divorce action was brought and the plaintiff has paid approximately $1,100 for the services thus rendered. The plaintiff obtained the funds for that expenditure by making a loan upon her own credit.

[47 Del. 517] The plaintiff now seeks an allowance of suit money, under Code 1935, § 3508, sufficient to include reimbursement for that disbursement. The question for decision is whether the Court has the power under the Statute to compel the defendant to make such reimbursement to the plaintiff

The scope and purpose of Code 1935, § 3508, regarding the subject matter, is clarified, I think, by a review of the evolution of the State. In 1852, the Delaware Divorce Statute was amended by Sec. 5 of Chap. 75, Rev.Code 1852, to read as follows:

‘ The Court may grant alimony to the wife for her sustenance pending her petition for divorce * * *.’

In 1859, by 11 Delaware Laws, Chap. 638, the Statute was amended as follows to authorize what is generally called ‘ suit money’ :

‘ The Court may grant alimony to the wife for her sustenance pending her petition for divorce and may order and direct the husband to pay such sum as may be necessary in conducting her case * * *.’

In 1873, by 14 Delaware Laws Chap. 548, the Legislature added to the foregoing the clause: ‘ whether the application be on the part of either the wife or husband.’ In 1907, when our Divorce Statute was generally revised by 24 Delaware Laws, Chap. 221, the Statute was adopted in its present

Page 223

form and, as now appears at Code 1935, § 3508, it provides as follows:

‘ Alimony and Expenses of Suit to Wife; Compulsory Process:-The Court may grant alimony to the wife for her sustenance pending her petition for divorce, and may order and direct the husband to pay such sum as may be deemed necessary to defray the expenses in conducting her case, whether the application be on the part of either the wife or husband, and shall protect her from personal restraint. The Court, in the execution of the ...


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