Robinson v. Robinson, S10A0929
*All courts mentioned are at the state level.
- Supreme Court acknowledged that there are contradictory lines of cases that dictate at what point in time awards of temporary alimony and child support cease to be effective after a final judgment awarding different amounts is appealed.
- Here, the Court held that, if not otherwise altered by the trial court, a temporary award continues in effect until the entry of the remittitur in the trial court, and it is from that date forward that any permanent award in a final judgment and decree of divorce has effect.
- In this case, a Temporary Order was entered in 2007 awarding $3,500/mo in child support and $3,000/mo in temporary alimony. In 2008, the Final Decree was entered, awarding higher CS amount (5,500k/mo), and awarding lump sum permanent alimony (not periodic permanent alimony). In 2009, Husband filed for discretionary appeal to SC, SC denied it as frivolous; the trial court then entered SC’s remittitur on July 28, 2009.
- On August 21, 2009 Wife filed contempt seeking CS and $5,500 monthly for June, July and August 2009 and seeking temporary alimony for same months, based on the 2007 temporary order. Trial court said that Husband could not be held liable for failing to pay temporary alimony for those months since the 2008 Final Decree only awarded lump sum, not periodic, support.
- Robinson v. Robinson (this case) overrules the Nicol line of precedent: Nicol v. Nicol, 240 Ga. 673 (1978), DuBois v. DuBois, 250 Ga. 271 (1982), Gladney v. Bearden, 244 Ga. 298, and Cale v. Cale, 153 Ga. App. 57 (1980) (stating that when a Final Judgment awards a higher amount than the temporary, is then appealed, but is affirmed, the Final Decree has the same force and effect as the date it was entered, and the higher amount must be paid, only subject to an offset of any lower temporary amount paid during the pendency of the appeal).
- Here, the Court holds that McDonald v. McDonald, 234 Ga. 37(1975) is the proper rule: judgment for temporary alimony continues in full force and effect until a final judgment in the case – but a judgment is not final so long as either party has the right to have it reviewed by the SC. Temporary and permanent alimony have distinctly different purposes, so a spouse is not entitled to a credit against permanent alimony for payments made by that spouse pursuant to a temporary order while the final judgment of divorce is pending appeal.
- Therefore, Husband WAS obligated to pay temporary amounts that came due before remittitur, even though it was after the entry of the Final Decree. Trial court correctly ordered Husband to pay temporary child support amounts until the date the remittitur was entered, at which point the higher, final amounts kicked in.