WILSON v. WILSON was a 1943 California appellate
decision. Charles Wilson and Greta Wilson were married in
1918. Over the years, they had six children. The Wilson's
had a good marriage until around 1932, when Greta Wilson
joined and later became obsessed (1936-7) with the
Jehovah's Witnesses.  Charles Wilson was opposed to the
teachings of the WatchTower Society, and even moved his
family to California, in ignorance, thinking that he could get
his wife away from them.

In June 1941, Greta Wilson moved out of the family home,
and thereafter filed a divorce action, in which she sought
custody of the couple's five minor children. The action
proceeded to a lengthy trial.  The court awarded a divorce
to Charles Wilson on his cross-complaint, and gave custody
of the five minor children to him, and awarded the small
amount of community property to Charles Wilson for the
benefit of the minor children.

On appeal, the appellate court noted that it was settled law
in California that the finding of the trial court in divorce
actions would not be disturbed on appeal unless the
evidence in support thereof was so slight as to indicate a
want of the ordinary good judgment and an abuse of
discretion by the trial court.  In reviewing the trial record,
the appellate court stated, in part:

"It is not feasible to set out in this opinion all of the
evidence in the case. A great portion of it consists of many
exhibits in reference to the literature of the organization of
which plaintiff was a member. We will, however, attempt to
set out sufficient evidence to indicate what the trial court
had before it to consider in support of its findings.

"Plaintiff argues that the evidence of her activities in
connection with the Jehovah's Witnesses was not such that
she should be found to be an unfit or improper person to
have custody of the children, nor was it such conduct as
would constitute a ground for divorce based upon cruelty.
Defendant takes a contrary view. Her argument was
rejected and defendant's view was shared by the trial court.

"Defendant and his wife were married in 1918. He was an
automobile mechanic. Their marital status seemed to go
fairly smooth until about six years ago when plaintiff
became connected with the organization known as
Jehovah's Witnesses and became quite active therein.
Defendant was opposed to their principles, as he
understood them, and remonstrated with his wife in
reference thereto. He claims that he came to California to
'try to get away from it', but that he was unsuccessful in this
respect. He testified that her activities had caused him
'worry and anguish'; that his wife would remain away from
home and their children until late at night and for days, and
that he discovered that she had been gone as long as three
days without telling him or making provision for the care of
the children; that he, with the aid of the oldest girl, would
be compelled to prepare their own meals and see that the
children were clean enough to go to school. He testified
further that his wife on some of these occasions would go
on the streets of Brawley, where he was well known, and
for hours endeavor to sell their literature, remaining away
from home and the children; that on one occasion he said
he did slap her because he had asked her to stay off from
the streets selling the literature in the town where he knew
so many people; that it interfered with his employment;
that two days later he caught her 'peddling the magazine'
and he took them away from her and slapped her; that on
another occasion two weeks later he caught her with a sack
full of books and magazines; that he took them away from
her; that she called him a 'liar' and he told her what he
thought of her books and then he slapped her; that it is
impossible for them to live together as long as she follows
that creed because she taught the teachings and doctrines
of the organization to the children; that he believed that the
doctrines so taught were detrimental to the government
and to the minds of the children; that plaintiff endeavored
to teach them that the organization, as such, does not
believe in saluting the flag of the United States, and that the
children were fully justified in disobeying and disregarding
the laws of our land when they thought such laws conflicted
with some construction which the organization might place
upon certain passages of the Bible.

"Defendant further testified that on one occasion when he
found plaintiff endeavoring to teach such doctrines to the
children in their home late one evening that he said to her:
'Get out and let them go to sleep,' and that 'she started
kicking and she kicked the hide off of my knee and I still
have the scar (exhibiting same). I caught her by the foot as
she tried to kick me in the face and dragged her into the
other room. She went back and I reached out to take her by
the shoulder and she started kicking again, and I caught her
by the foot and dragged her back through again, and she
threw her shoes at me. I pushed her into the bedroom. She
was trying to kick at me ... I didn't hit her on that occasion.  
... She started to the police station to have me arrested. I
got the two little girls in the car and I thought if she got to
the police station they would have trouble in getting me
because I wasn't going to the police station unless she
went too. I caught up with her before she got there and put
her in the car, and I tried to get her to go back home with
me and she would bounce out faster than I could put her in
... the police came along ...  and they stopped and talked.
She was determined to have me arrested.  ... She went
home and the next morning she got up and went out and
swore out a warrant for me and had me hauled into the
police court. ...

"Many exhibits were placed in evidence in an endeavor to
show the doctrines being taught by the organization and
which she, in turn, it is claimed, imparted to the children.
The effect of these teachings, as construed by the trial
court, is set forth in the findings in detail. The court then
found that the plaintiff, 'for approximately ten years last
past has been a member of a certain sect or cult known as
Jehovah's Witnesses [called such by the Court of Appeal of
California]; that as such member the said plaintiff ... is
engaged in the spreading and dissemination of the
doctrines of said sect through public solicitation, public
speaking, and the continued distribution of printed matter ...
the author of some of which is one 'Judge Rutherford', ...
that plaintiff ... implicitly believes in and advocates all of the
matters and things set forth in said exhibits and said printed
matter; that some of such printed matter expressly and by
implication instructs the members and followers of said
sect to disobey and violate the laws of the United States,
the State of California, and other local laws whenever and
wherever it may appear to the individual member of said
sect that any such law does not meet with his or her
approval according to his or her interpretation of some
passage or passages of the Holy Scriptures ... '; that 'the
members of said sect and the said plaintiff ... refused to
salute or recognize the flag of the United States as a
symbol of democracy'; that plaintiff, 'up to the time of the
separation of the parties hereto, kept quantities of such
printed matter in the home of said parties for the members
of the family and the minor children of said parties to read
and study, and said plaintiff ... taught and instructed the said
children ... in the doctrines of said sect as set forth in said
printed matter'; that 'for several years last past the said
plaintiff ... in her endeavor to spread such doctrines as
aforesaid, has continually absented herself from the home
of the parties and has traveled to other places, and at
certain of said times has taken the younger children of said
parties with her, and caused them to distribute copies of
said printed matter upon the streets and in public places
and, during the month of August, 1941, said plaintiff so
absenting herself from the home of said parties attended a
convention of said sect in the East and paid her own
expenses in so attending said convention out of the
community funds of the said parties.

"The said plaintiff .. intends to continue the practice of
preaching and spreading the doctrines of said sect and to
continue absenting herself from the home of said parties,
as she has in the past, in so doing ... that said defendant ...
during all of the times herein mentioned has been, and now
is opposed to the doctrines and teachings of Jehovah's
Witnesses and said defendant is opposed to having the
children ... taught the doctrines and teachings of said sect,
disrespect for religion, or disobedience of the laws of the
United States, the State of California, or local laws, or
disrespect for or refusal to salute the flag of the United
States; that said defendant ... on many occasions has so
informed the said plaintiff ... and many times has requested
and demanded that she desist from teaching said doctrines
to the children of said parties; that she remain at home and
refrain from preaching and spreading the doctrines of said
sect upon the streets and in other public places; that the
said plaintiff ... has persistently refused to comply with the
wishes and requests of said defendant ... and has continued
... in all of said activities, against the will and continued
protests of the defendant ... and on ... the 30th day of June,
1941, finally left and abandoned the home of the said
parties in Brawley ... so that she might continue in said
practices unhampered and without restraint so far as said
defendant ... was concerned.' The court then further found
'that said defendant on some two or three occasions
slapped and spoke harshly, and even cursed the said
plaintiff ... in remonstrating with plaintiff ... about her
conduct in absenting herself from the home and in teaching
and preaching the doctrines of said sect which said
defendant ... believed to be unpatriotic ... and detrimental to
the welfare of the minor children ...; that such conduct by
and on the part of said defendant ... has been and was
encouraged and provoked by the actions and continued
course of conduct of said plaintiff. ..."

"It is apparent from the testimony that the trial court was
justified in believing that the conduct of the plaintiff was
such as to cause and that it did actually cause great and
grievous mental suffering on the part of the defendant. The
defendant has had the care and custody of the children for
more than a period of one year and apparently the plaintiff
has chosen the work of furthering the interests of
Jehovah's Witnesses in preference to her family. The trial
court had before it the parties involved and was able to
judge of their appearance. It was in a much better position
to judge of the welfare of the children than is the appellate
court. ... The evidence supports the findings and the
findings support the judgment. ... Judgment affirmed."
Jehovah's Witnesses Lose in Court-Often....