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Glass v. Glass

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 16, 2017

Sandra A. Glass, Plaintiff and Appellant
v.
James K. Glass, Defendant and Appellee

         Appeal from the District Court of Cass County, East Central Judicial District, the Honorable Steven E. McCullough, Judge. AFFIRMED.

          David A. Garaas, for plaintiff and appellant.

          Patti J. Jensen, for defendant and appellee.

          OPINION

          VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

         [¶ 1] Sandra Glass-Lenertz appealed from an amended judgment terminating James Glass's spousal support obligation to her. We affirm, concluding the district court did not abuse its discretion in terminating spousal support as of the date of Lenertz's remarriage in 2002.

         I

         [¶ 2] Lenertz and Glass divorced in 1996. The divorce judgment required Glass to pay Lenertz $1, 700 per month in spousal support. The judgment states Glass's spousal support obligation ceases upon either party's death. The spousal support provision of the judgment is silent regarding Lenertz's remarriage.

         [¶ 3] Lenertz remarried in September 2002. Glass did not pay any spousal support until 2001. Between the date of the divorce and Lenertz's remarriage, Glass accrued $117, 300 in spousal support payments to Lenertz. In 2001 and 2002, Glass paid Lenertz $23, 000 in spousal support. Between 2002 and July 2015, Glass paid Lenertz $94, 300 in spousal support, the remainder of the $117, 300 owed. Glass did not pay any interest on the past due amounts.

         [¶ 4] In July 2015 Glass moved to terminate his spousal support obligation, arguing it terminated on the date of Lenertz's remarriage. After a November 2015 hearing, the district court concluded Glass's spousal support obligation terminated on the date of Lenertz's remarriage in September 2002. The court also found Lenertz was entitled to $26, 903.37 of interest on the unpaid spousal support that accrued between the date of the divorce and her remarriage.

         II

         [¶ 5] Lenertz argues the district court exceeded its statutory authority by retroactively terminating her spousal support as of the date of her remarriage.

         [¶ 6] Spousal support is governed by N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24.1. This statute was amended effective August 1, 2015, and states permanent spousal support terminates upon the remarriage of the former spouse receiving support. N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24.1(2). Lenertz remarried and Glass moved to terminate his spousal support obligation before the amendment and neither party argues the amended statute applies here. See Klein v. Klein, 2016 ND 153, ¶ 12, 882 N.W.2d 296 (N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24.1 as amended applies prospectively, not retroactively).

         [¶ 7] The version of N.D.C.C. § 14-05-24.1 in effect in this case provided:

Taking into consideration the circumstances of the parties, the court may require one party to pay spousal support to the other party for any period of time. The court ...

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