Thompson v. Thompson,
226 U.S. 551 (1913)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Thompson v. Thompson, 226 U.S. 551 (1913)

Thompson v. Thompson

No. 45

Argued November 8, 1912

Decided January 6, 1913

226 U.S. 551


Notwithstanding the obligation to make continuing payments for maintenance of a wife and children is not, even when fixed by judicial decree, in the nature of a technical debt, it may, when so fixed, be estimated on expectancy of life, and the total amount may sustain a jurisdiction based on amount involved.

Statutory maintenance is assimilated to alimony under § 980 of the Code of the District of Columbia.

In this case, as the amount due under a judgment of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia for support and maintenance at the rate of $75.00 a month together with amount to accrue due during expectancy of life of the wife amounts to over $5,000, this Court has jurisdiction under the Act of February 9, 1893.

The words "every court within the United States," as used in § 905, Rev.Stat., carrying into effect the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, include the courts of the District of Columbia.

The full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution and the statutes enacted thereunder do not apply to judgments rendered by a court having no jurisdiction.

Under the prior decisions of this Court, service of the summons in a suit for divorce may be by publication if brought in a court of the matrimonial domicile. Atherton v. Atherton, 181 U. S. 155; Haddock v. Haddock, 201 U. S. 562.

The state in which the parties were married, where they resided after marriage, and where the husband resided until the action for divorce was brought is the matrimonial domicile, and has jurisdiction over the absent wife.

A decree of divorce is not valid even when granted by a court of the matrimonial domicile except on actual notice to the defendant, or, if a nonresident, by publication according to the law of the state.

Where the law of the matrimonial domicile permits the affidavit on which an order of service by publication is granted to be

Page 226 U. S. 552

made on information and belief, the court acquires jurisdiction and the judgment based thereon is entitled to full faith and credit in the courts of other states.

This Court is bound to assume, in the absence of any general law or policy of a state to the contrary being shown, that where the court adjudges the proceedings to be in accord with proper practice, such is the case.

Although an affidavit used as a basis for an order of publication of the summons may be defective in the mode of stating material facts, if the facts are stated, the judgment, though voidable on direct attack, is not void on its face and coram non judice.

Where the courts of a state have held that a wife may by her conduct forfeit the right to the support of her husband, and cannot have alimony on a divorce decreed in his favor, the courts of other states must give the decree full faith and credit as foreclosing the right of the wife to have alimony and a bar to a suit for maintenance in the courts of other states.

35 App.D.C. 14 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the degree of faith and credit to be given by the courts of the District of Columbia to a judgment of divorce obtained in Virginia on service of the summons by publication, are stated in the opinion.

Page 226 U. S. 557

Disclaimer: Official Supreme Court case law is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia case law is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.