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Korelitz v. Korelitz

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 9, 2017

BRIAN KORELITZ APPELLANT
v.
RUTH'E KORELITZ APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/06/2015

         MADISON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT GEORGE CLARK III

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ROBERT MARVIN PEEBLES MATTHEW STANLEY EASTERLING MARTY CRAIG ROBERTSON.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: AMY D. JORDAN.

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          ISHEE, J.

         ¶1. In March 2006, Brian Korelitz and Ruth'e Korelitz were granted a divorce by the Madison County Chancery Court. As part of the divorce, Brian and Ruth'e entered into a written property-settlement agreement. The alimony provision of the agreement originally contained the word "periodic" six times. But after negotiations between the parties, each instance of "periodic" was stricken through and initialed by both parties. Additionally, there was a handwritten clause stating that the alimony provision of the agreement was nonmodifiable. This was also initialed by both parties.

         ¶2. In August 2014, alleging a de facto marriage of Ruth'e, Brian initiated an action to terminate his alimony obligation. Alternatively, Brian asked the court to modify his alimony on the ground that he had experienced a substantial decrease in his income. The chancellor found that the alimony provision was to be classified as lump-sum alimony-and thus not subject to modification. Brian appeals. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶3. In 2006, Brian and Ruth'e agreed to an irreconcilable-differences divorce. Their agreement relating to child custody, child support, and property settlement was reflected in a document that was executed on March 2, 2006.

         ¶4. The alimony provision of the agreement, which is at issue in this case, reads as follows:

A. Periodic Alimony. [Brian] agrees to pay unto [Ruth'e] as periodic alimony the monthly sum of $2, 850.00 per month, beginning the first day of the month immediately following execution of this Agreement for a period of thirty-six (36) months, reducing to $2, 600.00 for a period of thirty-six (36) months, [and] reducing to $2, 100.00 for a period of thirty-six (36) months. Periodic [A]limony shall then reduce to $1, 750.00 until September 1, 2019, or [Brian's] retirement, whichever occurs later, whereupon periodic alimony shall cease. Said periodic alimony shall be payable one-half on the 1st and one-half on the 15th of each month. In addition, such periodic alimony shall cease upon the remarriage of [Ruth'e] or upon the death of either party[, ] whichever occurs first. The payments shall be deductible by [Brian] and includable as income by [Ruth'e], both for state and federal income tax purposes. [Handwritten addition as follows:] Said payments are further non-modifiable, except as set forth herein above.

         ¶5. The word "periodic" was initially inserted into the alimony paragraph six times. But, in the course of negotiations by the parties, the word was later stricken through and initialed by the parties, in every place the word appeared. Also, there was a handwritten statement at the end of the alimony provision that stated: "Said payments are further non-modifiable, except as set forth hereinabove." This change was also initialed by both parties.

         ¶6. Additionally, according to the terms of the agreement, Brian agreed to assure alimony payments by maintaining ...


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