Dickey v. Dickey, 32.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtPARKE, J.
Citation141 A. 387
Docket NumberNo. 32.,32.
Decision Date04 April 1928
141 A. 387


No. 32.

Court of Appeals of Maryland.

April 4 and 19, 1928.

141 A. 388

Appeal from Circuit Court of Baltimore City; H. Arthur Stump, Judge.

"To be officially reported."

Action for divorce by Jessie L. Dickey against William J. C. Dickey. Decree for plaintiff. Subsequently defendant filed a petition seeking to have alimony reduced. Plaintiff demurred, and demurrer was sustained. Thereafter plaintiff filed her petition against defendant, praying that defendant be attached for contempt in not paying according to terms of decree. Matter was heard on demurrer to petition, petition dismissed, and plaintiff appeals. Order affirmed as to refusing attachment, and otherwise reversed and remanded.


Emory L. Stinchcomb, of Baltimore, for appellant.

Robert W. Beach, of Baltimore, for appellee.

PARKE, J. The appellant, Jessie L. Dickey, obtained an absolute divorce from her husband, William J. C. Dickey, appellee, on statutory grounds. While the proceedings for divorce were pending, the parties sold and divided the proceeds of a property which they held as tenants by the entirety, and executed a paper writing whereby they agreed:

"That, in the event of the passage of a decree therein in favor of the plaintiff, a proper allowance to the plaintiff as and for permanent alimony in the sum of $25 per week, and that the said sum shall be payable unto her until her death or remarriage, and that this agreement shall be filed in the cause."

This contract was made while testimony was being taken to ascertain the faculties of the husband in order to enable the court to decide what would be a proper allowance to the wife as permanent alimony. There is nothing in the record to indicate that there was any fraud or collusion in the divorce proceedings or in this agreement, which so far as we can judge, was executed in an honest effort to reach a fair equivalent or substitute for the permanent alimony, which the errant husband was bound to pay to an injured wife. It will be observed that the agreement to pay the stipulated sum was not limited to the life of the husband, but was to continue until the death or remarriage of the wife. There is no ground for the assumption that the parties, who were acting under advice of their counsel, did not know that the continuation of the husband's obligation to pay after his death was an extension of his duty to pay alimony, which ceases at the death of the husband, infra, and, so, this enlargement in point of time of the husband's obligation to pay alimony was doubtlessly reflected in the amount of the agreed weekly payment.

The agreement was filed and was submitted to the chancellor, who, in granting the wife an absolute divorce, incorporated the agreement of the parties in the decree, and so gave it the court's sanction. The provision in the decree is:

"And it is further ordered that said defendant shall pay said complainant as permanent alimony the sum of $25 per week, accounting from the date of this decree, until her death or remarriage, or until the further order of. this court."

Since the case of Wallingsford v. Wallingsford, 6 Har. & J. 485, it has been the settled law of Maryland that permanent alimony is a provision by the husband for the wife's support that continues only during their joint lives or so long as they live separate and apart. 2 Bishop on Marriage & Divorce, §§ 836, 858; Emerson v. Emerson, 120 Md. 584, 590, 87 A. 1033; Polley v. Polley, 128

141 A. 389

Md. 60, 63, 97 A. 526; McCaddin v. McCaddin, 116 Md. 572, 82 A. 554; Newbold v. Newbold, 133 Md. 170, 175, 104 A. 366; Hood v. Hood, 138 Md. 355, 365, 113 A. 895, 15 A. L. R. 774; Blades v. Szatai, 151 Md. 644, 649, 135 A. 841, 50 A. L. R. 232. It is equally well established in this state that a final decree of divorce amensa et thoro or a vinculo matrimonii may be modified at any subsequent time as to alimony. Clarke v. Clarke, 149 Md. 590, 592, 593, 131 A. 821; Winchester v. Winchester, 138 Md. 95, 97, 113 A. 584, 14 A. L. R. 609; Braecklein v.Braecklein, 136 Md. 33, 38, 109 A. 546. If, however, the allowance to the wife in the decree is the result of a...

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113 cases
  • Winkel v. Winkel, s. 8-13.
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    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • October 31, 1940
    ...3; Fairbank v. Fairbank, 169 Md. 212, 181 A. 233; Braecklein v. Braecklein, 136 Md. 32, 109 A. 546; Dickey v. Dickey, 1928, 154 Md. 675, 141 A. 387, 58 A.L.R. 634; Marshall v. Marshall, 1932, 162 Md. 116, 159 A. 260, 83 A.L.R. 1237; Id, 164 Md. 107, 163 A. 874; Langrall v. Langrall, 1924, 1......
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    ...opinion that a Court of Equity should not disturb it." The principles set forth in Emerson were followed in Dickey v. Dickey, 154 Md. 675, 141 A. 387 (1928). In Dickey, while divorce proceedings were pending, the husband and wife entered into an agreement providing " 'for permanent alimony ......
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    ...to and could not be granted in a marriage annulment. This stress was, no doubt, because of the holding in Dickey v. Dickey, 154 Md. 675, 141 A. 387, 58 A.L.R. 634, cited therein, that alimony is not a debt. In Re Irish, 51 Idaho 604, 9 P.2d 501, a 2 to 1 decision, there was an able dissent.......
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