Jun 1

Spousal Support Is Obligation of Deceased Spouse’s Estate (Pa. Super.)


The executrix of Ronald Renninger, Sr.’s estate appealed an order requiring the estate to pay spousal support to Ronald’s common law wife. The executrix argued that the trial court erred in its order because the divorce abated due to Ronald’s death and an order for support cannot be granted following the death of a party to the divorce action. The appellate court disagreed.

The court held that the trial court entered an interim support order while Ronald was alive awarding support from the time of the wife’s filing of the support action until the date of death. This is consistent, according to the court, with a longstanding rule that a spouse can collect unpaid support as a creditor of the deceased spouse’s estate. Thus, the lower court did not err in denying the support action simply because Ronald died during the pendency of the action. The court also disagreed with the executrix’s contention that the wife was not entitled to receive support due to her violence toward Ronald. The court held that the Executrix has the burden of presenting clear and convincing evidence to establish a defense to spousal support and the Executrix’s evidence that both parties sought mutual personal protection orders against each other is merely evidence of a troubled relationship and not sufficient evidence to overcome a spousal support obligation. For these reasons, the court affirmed the spousal support award from the date Ronald’s wife filed her petition until his date of death.

Moser v. Renninger, 2015 WL 1959448 (May 1, 2015)