Armstrong v. Armstrong

In Armstrong v. Armstrong, 350 U.S. 568, 76 S.Ct. 629, 633, 100 L.Ed. 705 (1956), the facts were that the husband while residing in Florida filed a suit for divorce from his wife who had separated from him and established a residence in Ohio. Service on the wife in this divorce action was constructive only; she was not personally served and made no appearance in the suit. A divorce was granted the husband in a decree containing among other recitals, this language dealing with the matter of alimony: 'This court, therefore, finds the defendant has not come into this court in good faith or made any claim to the equitable conscience of the court and has made no showing of any need on her part for alimony. It is, therefore, specifically decreed that no award of alimony be made to the defendant.' Later the wife instituted a suit in Ohio for divorce and alimony. The husband appeared in that suit and set up the divorce obtained by him in Florida. The Ohio court denied the wife's prayer for a divorce, because the Florida court had already decreed a divorce to the husband, but the Ohio court proceeded to pass on the question of alimony and granted alimony to the wife. The judgments were affirmed by the Ohio appellate courts (99 Ohio App. 7, 130 N.E.2d 710; 162 Ohio St. 406, 123 N.E.2d 267). On certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States the husband contended that the Ohio courts had denied full faith and credit to the Florida decree in that, as the husband contended, that decree had not only granted him a divorce but had passed on and denied the wife's right to alimony. The entire membership of the Supreme Court concurred in affirming the judgment of the Ohio court but from different approaches. The majority of the court took the view that the Florida court had not determined the wife's right to alimony. Referring to that part of the decree hereinbefore quoted, the court said: 'Taken literally, that language means only that, for the reasons it gave, the court would refrain from making an affirmative award of alimony to the wife, not that it adjudicated in favor of the husband that his wife was not entitled to alimony.'