Non Modifiable Alimony Terminated On Second Attempt

In the law, as in other human endeavors, a combination of good judgment and perseverance often pays off.

Maryland Divorce Lawyers will recognize that these qualities combined with a bit of luck in the May 2010 ruling that Mr. Andrulonis obtained ending his alimony payments to his ex wife.

A complaint was filed, seeking to terminate alimony. The law provides for termination of alimony in the event of remarriage.

In 1995 the Circuit Court for Baltimore County entered a judgment for absolute divorce to Joseph and Mary Andrulonis. As part of the judgment, Mr. Andrulonis was ordered to pay alimony in accordance with the separation agreement of the parties. According to the agreement, husband’s alimony obligation was “non-modifiable”.

In 1998 wife remarried. Husband promptly filed a complaint seeking to terminate alimony pursuant to Section 11-108 of Family Law Article. This section provides for termination of alimony in the event of the remarriage of the recipient. The Circuit ruled against Mr. Andrulonis on the grounds that the alimony was “non-modifiable”. He appealed to the Court of Special Appeals which affirmed the ruling against him.

Readers of my prior posting, Alimony and Remarriage of Recipient, will recognize immediately that this decision was at odds with the subsequent Court of Appeals 2003 decision in Moore vs. Jacobsen. Relying on this decision, Mr. Andrulonis filed a complaint asking the court to strike the wage withholding order by which alimony was being collected and enter a judgment against Mary for past three years of alimony that had been paid.

The defenses that Mary raised included “law of the case” doctrine, collateral estoppels and claim preclusion. These rules generally prevent reopening a disputed issue that a court has wrongly decided in prior litigation. However, the opinion in Andrulonis vs. Andrulonis found public policy exceptions that applied to the facts of this case. While the Court terminated the obligation to pay alimony prospectively, it did not order Mary to repay any of the alimony she had received.