SOL and the PSA
September 2, 2015 § 7 Comments
We visited the COA decision in Moseley v. Smith here before. It’s the 2014 case in which the importance of a hold-harmless agreement in a PSA was underscored when the COA held that, although the husband’s underlying debt obligation may have been discharged in bankruptcy, his obligation to his ex-wife based on a hold-harmless clause was not.
There’s another aspect of that case that merits your attention.
On appeal the ex-husband argued that his ex-wife’s claim against him was barred by the three-year statute of limitations (SOL) applicable to contract claims. His position was supported by the case of D’Avignon v. D’Avignon, 945 So.2d 401 (Miss. App. 2006), which held that property division matters in a property settlement agreement (PSA) are governed by the three-year SOL that applies to contracts.
In Moseley, however, the COA changed its position and held that all PSA provisions are incorporated into the court’s final judgment of divorce and, therefore, the seven-year SOL governing enforcement of judgments applies.
- Remember that SOL is an affirmative defense that must be asserted by the party who claims it. It is not an automatic bar to the action, but rather a defense that must be affirmatively pled. In a recent case in my court the parties litigated the issue whether the ex-husband was in contempt for non-payment of installment lump-sum alimony. Some of the early payments were due more than seven years before suit was brought. No one raised a SOL issue; therefore there was no bar to obtaining a judgment on those unpaid amounts.
- Before a judgment expires, you can renew the judgment per MCA 15-1-43. The extension is for a period of seven additional years. Most property provisions of PSA’s are resolved before that initial seven-year period expires, but some do not.