ARS 25-327(B) Interpretation

In Hodges v. Hodges, 118 Ariz. 572, 574, 578 P.2d 1001, 1003 (App. 1978) the Court addressed whether the annulment of a wife's second marriage revived her first husband's obligation to pay spousal maintenance. 118 Ariz. at 573, 578 P.2d at 1002. Because A.R.S. 25-327(B) provided that the obligation terminated upon remarriage of the party receiving maintenance, the key issue was whether an annulled marriage constituted a "remarriage" under the statute. Id. The court noted the legal fiction that an annulment decree "relates back" to destroy a marriage from the beginning, but held that courts sometimes ignore that principle "as the purposes of justice are deemed to require." Id. at 574, 578 P.2d at 1003. The court then examined policy considerations to conclude that a party's post-dissolution marriage, which is later annulled, is nevertheless a "remarriage" for purposes of 25-327(B), thereby permanently terminating the former spouse's support obligation. Id. at 575-76, 578 P.2d at 1004-05. The policy considerations supporting the holding in Hodges do not compel a similar conclusion in this case. Those considerations focused on the uncertainty in financial planning faced by the first spouse if revival of the support obligation was possible, ethical issues, and the responsibility of the spouse receiving payments to make a wise decision in deciding to remarry, thereby terminating the prior spouse's obligation. Id. Specifically, the Hodges court was persuaded in its holding by the facts that: (1) a second marriage might last indefinitely before annulment, thereby leaving the prior spouse in financial limbo; (2) revival of the spousal maintenance obligation would entitle the beneficiary to payments for the period spent living with the second spouse, thereby creating an ethical conundrum, and; (3) the re-marrying spouse, as a responsible person, should be held to the decision, presumably relied on by others, to terminate the support obligation. 118 Ariz. at 576, 578 P.2d at 1005.