Winston v. Winston, No. 142

CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtArgued before MURPHY; DIGGES
Citation290 Md. 641,431 A.2d 1330
PartiesJoyce Fairchild WINSTON v. Herbert Saul WINSTON.
Docket NumberNo. 142
Decision Date13 July 1981

Page 641

290 Md. 641
431 A.2d 1330
Joyce Fairchild WINSTON
v.
Herbert Saul WINSTON.
No. 142.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
July 13, 1981.

Page 642

Alan D. Massengill, Gaithersburg, for appellant.

Lee Gordon, Baltimore (Karl H. Goodman and Gordon & Goodman, P. A., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.

Argued before MURPHY, C. J., and SMITH, DIGGES, ELDRIDGE, COLE, DAVIDSON and RODOWSKY, JJ.

DIGGES, Judge.

We granted certiorari in this case to review the decision of the Court of Special Appeals holding that a circuit court sitting in equity to consider divorce, alimony or [431 A.2d 1331] annulment of marriage matters possesses no authority to enforce its decrees and orders by way of an injunction. In issuing our writ we specifically directed that the parties address whether Kapneck v. Kapneck, 31 Md.App. 410, 356 A.2d

Page 643

572 (1976), the authority thought by both the trial court and the intermediate appellate court to be controlling here, was correctly decided. 1

The relevant facts, concerning which there is no dispute, are the subject of an agreed statement entered into by the parties. With minor alterations, it reads:

By decree dated November 11, 1978, petitioner Joyce Fairchild Winston was divorced a vinculo matrimonii from respondent Herbert Saul Winston, M.D. Included as a part of that judicial document was an order of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County directing "... that the provisions of the May 15, 1978, agreement of the parties are approved, ratified, and incorporated into this Decree (pursuant to Maryland Rule S77 b) insofar as the Court shall have jurisdiction, but shall not merge herein, pending further Order of the Court." The pertinent part of this agreement provides as follows regarding the marital home:

5. REAL PROPERTY:

5.1. The parties hereto own the marital home located at 10 Park Overlook Court, Bethesda, Maryland, of record as tenants by the entireties. The parties hereto agree that the Wife is the sole owner of, and shall have the right of exclusive occupancy of, the marital home and the Husband will promptly, prior to divorce, execute a deed conveying legal title of the property from the Husband and Wife to the Wife. The Husband shall vacate the home prior to January 1, 1979, and shall leave the home,

Page 644

including appliances, clean and in a good state of maintenance and repair. At any time prior to the day the Husband vacates the house, the Wife shall have access thereto at all reasonable times.

On July 26, 1979, after being unsuccessful in getting the respondent to vacate the marital home, the petitioner filed a Petition for Contempt and Injunctive Relief. A Rule to Show Cause was issued pursuant to this petition on December 3, 1979, which required the former husband to show cause (i) why he should not be held in contempt of court and remanded to the custody of the Sheriff for Montgomery County, Maryland, until he purged himself of contempt by vacating the premises located at 10 Park Overlook Court, Bethesda, Maryland, pursuant to the Decree of Divorce issued by the court on November 11, 1978; and (ii) why any other appropriate action, based on the evidence presented at the hearing on this rule, should not be granted. At the hearing, the doctor challenged the authority of the court to grant the relief requested.

Relying on the holding of the Court of Special Appeals in Kapneck v. Kapneck, supra, the circuit court concluded it was without jurisdiction to afford Mrs. Winston either the contempt or the injunctive relief requested. The trial judge reasoned:

(In Kapneck, the intermediate appellate court) pointed out that in divorce proceedings an equity court does not sit in the exercise of its ordinary equity jurisdiction (but possesses only those powers enjoyed by the ecclesiastical courts of England). To fill the breach created by Kapneck, the legislature passed chapter 221 of the Laws of Maryland 1977 and [431 A.2d 1332] later chapter 794 of the Laws of Maryland 1978, amending Court's Article section 3-603. It is clear, however, that the 1978 amendment applies only to cases filed after January 1, 1979. The 1977 amendment

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was passed as emergency legislation and took effect upon its approval on April 29, 1977. This case was filed April 22, 1977, and even if it could be argued that the 1977 amendment was applicable to pending cases, this is of no avail as the 1977 amendment did not accomplish the total correction the Legislature apparently intended.

When Mrs. Winston appealed, the Court of Special Appeals, in an unreported opinion, perceived a distinction between the contempt and injunctive relief powers of the circuit court. The intermediate appellate court agreed with the chancellor that a circuit court, when considering divorce, alimony or annulment matters, lacks jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief, but reversed the trial court's determination that it was similarly without authority to enforce its orders by way of contempt. 2

On either one of two grounds, shortly to be explained, we exhibit disagreement with the trial court's conclusion that a circuit court, when sitting in equity to consider divorce, alimony or annulment matters, possesses no authority to utilize that court's contempt or injunctive relief powers as enforcement tools. Likewise, we register our disagreement with the Court of Special Appeals' determination, expressed initially in Kapneck v. Kapneck, 31 Md.App. 410, 356 A.2d 572 (1976), and now again in the present case, that a circuit court had no authority by way of injunction to enforce orders of the type entered in this case in divorce and related actions.

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However, preliminarily to explaining why we reach these conclusions, it may be helpful to the reader to set out the intermediate appellate court's holding in Kapneck, as both of the lower judicial tribunals, when ruling in this case, relied on that case to justify their decisions. In Kapneck it was determined that under section 3-603(a) as it then existed in the Courts Article of the 1974 Code, which granted to the courts of equity jurisdiction in divorce related matters, 3

(an) equity court ... (did not sit) in the exercise of its general and ordinary equitable jurisdiction but as a divorce court, and therefore, ... it was governed by the rules and principles established in the ecclesiastical courts of England. It did not enjoy its usual equity powers. Since the ecclesiastical courts did not have authority to issue an injunction like the one here ((ex parte pendente lite order enjoining husband from harassing wife and minor children)), under the firmly established law of this State, neither did the court below. (Id., 31 Md.App. at 419, 356 A.2d at 577-78.)

We now explain our reversal of the present case.

[431 A.2d 1333] (i)

First of all, we state that the simple refutation of the Court of Special Appeals' determination in this case that the circuit court sitting in equity to consider this divorce matter possessed no authority to issue an appropriate injunction under Rule 685 to enforce the provisions of its decree was

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provided by the General Assembly when it enacted chapter 221 of the 1977 Laws specifically razing the Kapneck holding. That enactment which was codified as a part of Courts Article (Md.Code, 1974, 1977 Cum.Supp.), section 3-603, reads:

§ 3-603. Divorce and annulment.

(a) In general. A court of equity has jurisdiction in an action for divorce, alimony, or annulment of marriage. The court shall hear and determine a case of alimony in as full and ample manner as such case could be heard and determined by the ecclesiastical courts of England.

(b) Injunction. A court of equity sitting in an...

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18 practice notes
  • Powell v. Calvert County, No. 1125
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 9, 2001
    ...632 A.2d 1170 (1993); Starfish Condo. Assoc. v. Yorkridge Serv. Corp., Inc., 295 Md. 693, 705, 458 A.2d 805 (1983); Winston v. Winston, 290 Md. 641, 649-50, 431 A.2d 1330 (1981); Holmes v. Crim. Injuries Comp. Bd., 278 Md. 60, 63 n. 2, 359 A.2d 84 (1976); Richardson v. Richardson, 217 Md. 3......
  • In re Fairview-Takoma Ltd. Partnership, Bankruptcy No. 96-1-7995-DK.
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Maryland
    • March 5, 1997
    ...1170, 1175 (1993); Starfish Condominium Assoc. v. Yorkridge Serv. Corp., 295 Md. 693, 705, 458 A.2d 805, 811 (1983); Winston v. Winston, 290 Md. 641, 649-50, 431 A.2d 1330, 1334 (1981); Holmes v. Crim. Injuries Comp. Bd., 278 Md. 60, 63 n. 2, 359 A.2d 84, 86 n. 2 (1976); Amecom, 278 Md. at ......
  • Washington Suburban Sanitary Com'n v. Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Co. Inc., No. 116
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1986
    ...295 Md. 693, 705, 458 A.2d 805, 811 (1983), Mraz v. County Commissioners, 291 Md. 81, 90, 433 A.2d 771, 776-77 (1981), Winston v. Winston, 290 Md. 641, 650, 431 A.2d 1330, 1334 (1981), Aviles v. Eshelman Electric Corp., 281 Md. 529, 533, 379 A.2d 1227, 1229 (1977), Holmes v. Criminal Injuri......
  • Owens Corning v. Bauman, No. 744
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • February 1, 1999
    ...632 A.2d 1170 (1993); Starfish Condominium Assoc. v. Yorkridge Serv. Corp., 295 Md. 693, 705, 458 A.2d 805 (1983); Winston v. Winston, 290 Md. 641, 649-50, 431 A.2d 1330 (1981); Richardson v. Richardson, 217 Md. 316, 320, 142 A.2d 550 (1958). On the other hand, we also recognized in Holland......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • Powell v. Calvert County, No. 1125
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • March 9, 2001
    ...632 A.2d 1170 (1993); Starfish Condo. Assoc. v. Yorkridge Serv. Corp., Inc., 295 Md. 693, 705, 458 A.2d 805 (1983); Winston v. Winston, 290 Md. 641, 649-50, 431 A.2d 1330 (1981); Holmes v. Crim. Injuries Comp. Bd., 278 Md. 60, 63 n. 2, 359 A.2d 84 (1976); Richardson v. Richardson, 217 Md. 3......
  • In re Fairview-Takoma Ltd. Partnership, Bankruptcy No. 96-1-7995-DK.
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Maryland
    • March 5, 1997
    ...1170, 1175 (1993); Starfish Condominium Assoc. v. Yorkridge Serv. Corp., 295 Md. 693, 705, 458 A.2d 805, 811 (1983); Winston v. Winston, 290 Md. 641, 649-50, 431 A.2d 1330, 1334 (1981); Holmes v. Crim. Injuries Comp. Bd., 278 Md. 60, 63 n. 2, 359 A.2d 84, 86 n. 2 (1976); Amecom, 278 Md. at ......
  • Washington Suburban Sanitary Com'n v. Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Co. Inc., No. 116
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1986
    ...295 Md. 693, 705, 458 A.2d 805, 811 (1983), Mraz v. County Commissioners, 291 Md. 81, 90, 433 A.2d 771, 776-77 (1981), Winston v. Winston, 290 Md. 641, 650, 431 A.2d 1330, 1334 (1981), Aviles v. Eshelman Electric Corp., 281 Md. 529, 533, 379 A.2d 1227, 1229 (1977), Holmes v. Criminal Injuri......
  • Owens Corning v. Bauman, No. 744
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • February 1, 1999
    ...632 A.2d 1170 (1993); Starfish Condominium Assoc. v. Yorkridge Serv. Corp., 295 Md. 693, 705, 458 A.2d 805 (1983); Winston v. Winston, 290 Md. 641, 649-50, 431 A.2d 1330 (1981); Richardson v. Richardson, 217 Md. 316, 320, 142 A.2d 550 (1958). On the other hand, we also recognized in Holland......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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