The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

May 18, 2013

Court: Divorce pact still a contract

MERCER COUNTY — Superior Court this week agreed with a local judge that a man’s change in fortune does not get him out from under an alimony agreement he entered long ago.

Dagmar R. Adams and Angelo S. Morini divorced in 1990 and their property settlement agreement requires him to pay $2,500 alimony a month for 26 years, the provision terminated only if she dies.

The agreement includes a provision that alimony still would have to be paid if she remarries, and that the alimony terms are “nonmodifiable by either party regardless of physical and/or financial circumstances.”

Adams, who remarried about 10 years ago, and Morini modified the alimony payments over the years due to his financial hardship, but she filed a petition in February 2012 to enforce payment of $92,513 in arrearages.

Morini responded that her remarriage meant he should not have to pay, and that the original agreement violated public policy, is unconscionable and is impossible for him to live up to. He also said she failed to mitigate her damages, such as by getting a job.

Morini said his ex-wife is now financially secure, while his sole source of income is Social Security and he is “on the verge of destitution.”

“In essence, he argues that enforcement of the contractual provision is punitive rather than rehabilitative, as alimony is intended to be, and that it should be terminated and all outstanding arrearages waived,” said Judge Mary Jane Bowes, writing for a three-judge panel.

The alimony provision was part of a negotiated settlement between Adams and Morini and “remains an agreement between the parties subject to general contract principles,” Bowes said in the opinion filed Tuesday.

The overriding public policy issue is not to give relief to someone who has fallen on hard times, but to enforce contracts, Bowes said.

“The parties anticipated that there could be a change in financial fortune or health,” she said, referring to the alimony provision in the divorce settlement.

Superior Court agreed with Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts that “it is the circumstances surrounding the formation of the agreement, rather than Mr. Morini’s present circumstances, that are relevant to a conscionability determination,” Bowes said.

“The court found no evidence that Mr. Morini lacked any meaningful choice in accepting the alimony provision, or that the provision, viewed in the context of the entire settlement agreement, unreasonably favored Ms. Adams,” Bowes said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • CIRT team in Jackson Center Man arrested after shooting standoff

    One Jackson Center man is recovering from a bullet wound, and the borough resident accused of shooting him sits in jail after a long night of drinking that state police say turned into a case of attempted homicide.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sharon Speedway location City on track for new Speedway store

    Speedway is lining up its administrative and bureaucratic cones on plans for the gas station and convenience store chain to zoom into downtown Sharon.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Guards, county OK deal

    County officials and guards at the Mercer County Jail have reached a tentative contract agreement that, if approved, halts the idea of privatizing operations at the facility.

    July 31, 2014

  • Doss: Public has right to know

    A major part of Farrell council’s work session Monday was spent deciding whether or not to inform the audience about an unofficial police proposal from the City of Sharon.

    July 30, 2014

  • Budget falling short despite tax hike

    Farrell residents may have seen an income tax increase this year, but the city isn’t seeing the extra dollars City Manager Michael Ceci budgeted for.

    July 30, 2014

  • oakwood graves 1 Resting together

    Visitors to Oakwood Cemetery would see many  familiar local names if they looked down the hillside to the left just inside the gate on Sharon’s North Oakland Avenue.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Police: Kids in car were OK

    The mother of two young children was drunk and passed out when police found them all in a car parked along a city street, Sharon police said.

    July 29, 2014

  • To talk – or not – about police

    The mysterious agenda item, “No. 10,” at Farrell’s council meeting Monday became the center of a heated workshop and business session.

    July 29, 2014

  • Community thanks its first-responders

    Sharpsville honored its emergency responders Sunday at an event that included Mertz Towers residents as special guests.

    July 28, 2014

  • Drilling boom challenges state inspectors

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 28, 2014

  • Kidds Mill Covered Bridge A span of time

    Four generations of the Cadman family have enjoyed the Kidds Mill Covered Bridge, which is in Pymatuning Township near where the family’s ancestral farm is located.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Intruder hurts woman, takes $5

    A home invasion in Hermitage Friday night sent an elderly woman to the hospital and netted the robber $5.

    July 27, 2014

  • national night out March against crime set for Aug. 5

    At the last Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission meeting, Chief Riley Smoot Jr. presented the number of incidents for each of the four communities in May.

    Farrell topped out at 819.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • high street trail Peaceful pathways

    History buffs and picnickers in the Shenango Valley won’t have to drive to Sharpsville to hang out at the old Erie Canal extension lock. They’ll soon have the option to walk or roll in on bicycles and even powered chairs to visit Canal Park near the outflow of Shenango Dam.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • balloonquest1 Balloon Quest celebrates 25 years

    Today is the final day of the 25th annual Western Pennsylvania Balloon Quest at Scotland Meadows Park.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo