Sistare v. Sistare - 218 U.S. 1 (1910)
U.S. Supreme Court
Sistare v. Sistare, 218 U.S. 1 (1910)
Sistare v. Sistare
Argued November 1, 1909
»Decided May 31, 1910
218 U.S. 1
Past due installments of a judgment for future alimony rendered in one state are within the protection of the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution unless the right to receive the alimony is so discretionary with the court rendering the decree that, even in the absence of application to modify the decree, no vested right exists.
Unless a decision of this Court in terms overrules a former decision, it will, if possible, be so construed as to harmonize with, and not overrule such prior decision, and so held that Barber v. Barber, 21 How. 582, establishing the general rule that a judgment for alimony as to past installments was within the full faith and credit clause was not overruled by Lynde v. Lynde, 181 U. S. 187, but the latter case established the exception as to such judgments where the alimony is so discretionary with the court that a vested right to receive the same does not exist.
The settled doctrine in New York in 1899 was that no power existed to modify a judgment for alimony absolute in terms unless conferred by statute, and a judgment for future alimony entered in 1899 under § 1762-1773, Code of Civil Procedure, is absolute until modified by the court rendering it; such a judgment, therefore, as to past due
installments, falls under the general rule that it is entitled to full faith and credit in the courts of another state. Barber v. Barber, 21 How. 582, followed; Lynde v. Lynde, 181 U. S. 17, distinguished.
Although the full faith and credit clause may not extend to mere modes of procedure, a judgment absolute in terms and enforceable in the state where rendered must, under the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution, be enforced by the courts of another state even though the modes of procedure to enforce its collection may not be the same in both states.
80 Conn. 1 reversed.
The facts, which involve the extent to which, under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution of the United States, effect must be given, in the courts of another state, to a judgment for alimony on which arrears are due, are stated in the opinion.