RESPONDENT: William T. Aldrich
LOCATION: New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department
DOCKET NO.: 55
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
CITATION: 375 US 249 (1963)
ARGUED: Oct 24, 1963
DECIDED: Nov 12, 1963
Charles M. Love - for the respondent
Herman D. Rollins - for the petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for Aldrich v. Aldrich
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 24, 1963 in Aldrich v. Aldrich
Number 55, Marguerite Loretta Aldrich versus William T. Aldrich, et al.
Herman D. Rollins:
Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.
This case comes here on petition for a writ of certiorari granted by this Court to a plaintiff-petitioner, Loretta Aldrich.
It comes from the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
A matter in controversy arises over the refusal of the majority of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia to give full faith and credit to a Florida divorce decree.
Briefly, these are the facts.
Loretta Aldrich and Colonel M. S. Aldrich were married in 1918.
Differences arose and they were divorced by the Circuit Court of Dade County, Florida in 1945.
The decree of divorce -- both parties appear, I would -- I should say and the defendant, Colonel Aldrich contested the case.
The decree of the court has found disposition of the matter and among other things directed that Colonel Aldrich paid to Mrs. Aldrich the amount of $250 for month alimony so long as she live and made the same lien against his estate in the event he -- of this death.
Colonel Aldrich applied for a rehearing and the alimony was reduced at $215 per month but remained just as it was.
There -- the other matters in the decree, he remained just as it had been before.
Colonel Aldrich died in May 1958.
He had kept his payments current up until his death but he prepared for death.
In this way, he transferred his property to his son, William T. Aldrich prior to his death where they had in mind the tax collector or Mrs. Aldrich, we don't know but Mrs. Aldrich was the one complaining here.
She -- Colonel Aldrich's estate was up for a settlement in the Circuit -- in the -- in Putnam County, West Virginia.
Mrs. Aldrich filed a suit there to set aside these alleged fraudulent conveyances that have been made.
When the Colonel's estate was appraised, although a wealthy man or a period had been a wealthy man, there was only $7000 appraised in his estate.
It became necessary, of course, to set aside these conveyances if the decree of divorce was to be satisfied and the court put away and have been entered in the State of Florida.
The Circuit Court of Putnam County, West Virginia dismissed our complaint on the ground that the Circuit Court, shall we say it, didn't have jurisdiction to enter a decree requiring alimony to be paid by a man's estate.
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia awarded the writ of error and then on argument by a divided court affirmed the Circuit Court of Putnam County, where we came here on a writ of certiorari.
Now, briefly, that it -- those are the facts in the case.
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, in deciding the case and refusing to give a full faith and credit to the Florida decree, said that the Florida decree made a wrong decision in the case.
There is no dispute about the court having jurisdiction of the parties and jurisdiction of the subject matter.
But the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia proceeds to review the statutes and decisions of the State of Florida and rule that the Florida court has made a wrong decision.
In doing so, the Court of West Virginia had found something like this in the decisions of the State of Florida.
"The alimony," this is the statement that often made in the Florida decree, "Alimony generally ends with the death of the husband."
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that alimony ends with the death of the husband.
We contend that the trial court, when it goes into the facts of the case, the needs of the wife, the amount of property that the husband has and possibly the -- the fault or wrong of the parties and a lot of parties that -- the part that the wife plead in acquiring the property still has a right to adjudicate alimony and make the same lien against the husband's estate.