Ex parte Randolph G. Wilson, Jr.Annotate this Case
Husband Randolph Wilson, Jr. petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for certiorari review of the decision of the Court of Civil Appeals affirming the Circuit Court's judgment denying his motion to modify his alimony obligations. The issue in this case reduced to what was the appropriate baseline for evaluating material changes in a party’s circumstances to justify the modification. Put differently, the Court addressed whether a party seeking a modification of periodic alimony had to show a material change since the last judgment or order addressing a claim for modification of such alimony, even if no such modification was granted in that judgment, or whether it was enough to show a material change in the parties' circumstances since the last judgment or order in which periodic alimony actually was awarded or modified. The husband cited Ex parte Boley, 392 So. 2d 840 (Ala. 1981), McInnish v. McInnish, 441 So. 2d 960 (Ala. Civ. App. 1983), and Kiefer v. Kiefer, 671 So. 2d 710, 711 (Ala. Civ. App. 1995), each of which addressed the standard for measuring modification of either alimony or child support by employing the same logic and rationale urged by the husband in the present case. The Court of Civil Appeal adopted the approach of Taylor v. Taylor, 640 So. 2d 971, 973 (Ala. Civ. App. 1994). Taylor stated that the party seeking modification of a periodic-alimony award must show "that a material change in the parties' circumstances has occurred since the trial court's last judgment or order." The Supreme Court concluded the application to this case of the principle articulated by the Court of Civil Appeals in Rowe v. Boley, 392 So. 2d 838, 840 (Ala. Civ. App. 1980), “embraced by this Court in Ex parte Boley,” and applied by the Court of Civil Appeals in McInnish to the issue of alimony modification was dictated by principles of equity. The Court therefore rejected the conclusion of the Court of Civil Appeals in the present case that Taylor had the "better-reasoned approach."