In Uncategorized on 01/25/2023 at 19:04

A result dear to my heart is unfortunately not dear to Terrence Edward Aragoni, 2023 T. C. Sum. Op. 3, filed 1/25/23, despite artful drafting of the temporary spousal support order when Terry shed his loved-once.

I’ll let STJ Peter (“HB”) Panuthos tell the story.

“A court order (order), dated January 30, 2017, was issued by the Superior Court of California. Petitioner was ordered to pay $9,146 in monthly alimony. Under section 2 of the order, ‘temporary spousal support pursuant to this order shall continue until the death of either party.’ Per section 7 of the order, petitioner was also ordered to pay $15,000 on account of his ex-spouse’s attorney’s fees and costs. Payments were directed to be made to his ex-spouse’s attorney ‘in monthly installments…until paid in full.” 2023 T. C. Sum. Op. 3, at p. 2.

Note the date: this is a pre-TCJA order, so Sections 71 and 215 alimony deduction is still in play. The landmine that blows up most of the old alimony deductions is the Section 71(b)(1)(D) death-of-spouse cut-off.

And despite the artful language in Section 2, Terry’s loved-once’s attorney was no slouch.

Even though there’s plenty of argy-bargy about CA divorce law (and CA practitioners might find STJ Panuthos’ exegesis useful even in post-TCJA deals, because attorneys’ fees for divorce seem to survive death regardless), the document itself sinks Terry’s deduction.

“Even if we were to conclude that California law is unclear in regard to postdeath liability, a reasonable reading of the divorce instrument ‘based on the language of the document’ would support a finding that the liability would continue after the death of petitioner’s ex-spouse. Section 7 of the Order clearly states that payments were to continue until ‘paid in full.’” 2023 T. C. Sum. Op. 3, at p. 5. (Citation omitted).


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