Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Marriage of Stansell

Court of Appeals of Oregon

December 5, 2018

In the Matter of the Marriage of Robert Dale STANSELL, Petitioner-Appellant, and Meghan Michelle STANSELL, Respondent-Respondent.

          Argued and submitted October 4, 2018

          Clackamas County Circuit Court DR11050322; Deanne L. Darling, Judge.

          Daniel S. Margolin argued the cause for appellant. Also on the briefs was Stephens & Margolin, LLP.

          Joel E. Fowlks argued the cause for respondent. On the brief was Richard E. Fowlks.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Garrett, Judge, and Powers, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Husband appeals a supplemental judgment modifying a general judgment of dissolution that awarded spousal support to wife. Husband argues that the trial court lacked authority to modify spousal support because husband's support obligation terminated before the trial court acquired authority under ORS 107.135 to modify the obligation. Held: The trial court erred in modifying husband's support obligation because, under ORS 107.135(1)(a), the trial court did not acquire authority to modify the obligation until after it terminated.

          [295 Or.App. 225] GARRETT, J.

         Husband appeals a supplemental judgment modifying a general judgment of dissolution that awarded spousal support to wife. ORS 107.135(1)(a). Husband argues that the trial court lacked authority to modify the judgment. We agree and reverse.

         The relevant facts are few and undisputed. In 2012, the parties divorced under the terms of a stipulated general judgment of dissolution. The judgment required husband to pay wife spousal support in monthly payments for five years, beginning retroactively in 2011 and continuing through August 2016. On July 26, 2016, wife filed a motion to modify spousal support, requesting an extension of the duration of the award. On August 1, husband made his final spousal support payment as scheduled. On August 13, husband was served with wife's motion. The trial court granted wife's motion and modified the general judgment to extend husband's spousal support obligation. Husband appealed.

         On appeal, husband's argument-which was rejected by the trial court-is that the trial court lacked authority under ORS 107.135 to modify spousal support because husband's obligation terminated on August 1, before wife served husband with her motion. Wife responds that, under Park and Park, 43 Or.App. 367, 602 P.2d 1123 (1979), rev den, 288 Or. 335 (1980) it sufficed that she had filed her motion before the termination of spousal support. Whether the trial court has authority under ORS 107.135 to modify a judgment awarding spousal support is a question of law. See id. at 369-71.

         Resolution of this case is guided by two principles. First, we have held that, when an obligation to pay spousal support terminates, the obligation effectively ceases to exist, leaving nothing for the court to modify[1] See, e.g., id. at 370-71 (where spousal support terminated "by the express terms of the decree," no support could be thereafter awarded "by 'amendment' because there would exist no duty to support at that time"); see also Wrench and Wrench, 98 Or.App. [295 Or.App. 226] 352, 353, 779 P.2d 195, rev den, 308 Or. 608 (1989) (holding that, "when the final [support] payment was made, the obligation was discharged" and, after that date, "husband had no obligation that could support a modification"); Woita and Woita, 98 Or.App. 83, 87, 778 P.2d 504, rev den, 308 Or. 608 (1989) (trial court lacked authority to reinstate spousal support obligation in a modification proceeding when the modification proceeding was initiated ten years after the support obligation terminated). Therefore, the trial court's modification of the support obligation is valid only if the court had authority to modify the judgment before the support obligation terminated on August 1, 2016.[2]

         Second, the question of whether the trial court had authority to modify the spousal support obligation before August 1 is governed by ORS 107.135(1)(a), which provides:

"(1) The court may at any time after a judgment of*** dissolution of marriage *** is granted, upon the motion of either party and after ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.