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Palmer v. Palmer - 11/6/2007

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds that Under A.R.S. § 25-327(B), Spousal Maintenance Payments Terminate Upon Remarriage Unless the Dissolution Decree Contains an Affirmative and Unambiguous Intent to Continue the Payments after Remarriage.

Husband filed a petition to terminate spousal maintenance payment upon remarriage of his former wife (“Wife”) in 2005. The decree of dissolution expressly provided that the term and amount of spousal maintenance payments were “non-modifiable” until October 31, 2008, except that the payments would end upon the death of Wife. A.R.S. § 25-327(B) provides that the obligation to pay future spousal maintenance terminates on the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance unless otherwise “expressly provided in the decree.”

The trial court agreed with Wife that the omission of a remarriage provision in light of language in the Decree terminating payments upon the death of Wife was tantamount to expressly providing that the remarriage would not terminate the payments. Husband appealed.

The Arizona Appeals Court reversed the trial court, holding that the intentional omission of termination language in a dissolution decree is not equivalent to an affirmative, unambiguous statement that is required under A.R.S. § 25-327(B). A dissolution decree lacking express language requiring a spouse to continue maintenance payments after remarriage is not sufficient to prevent automatic statutory termination of the payments upon remarriage.

Chief Judge Gemmill authored the opinion, with Presiding Judge Irvine and Judge Weisberg concurring.

Posted On: 11/8/2007