Case Caption: Evans-Freke vs. Evans-FrekeCase Number: SCT-CIV-2022-0046Date: 10/13/2023Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: 2023 VI 12Summary: In an appeal by the appellant former husband from the Superior Court’s August 23, 2022 order, the parties’ assumption that this was is an interlocutory order providing for pendente lite support under § 108 is mistaken. Despite labeling it a “Pendente Lite Order,” the Superior Court’s order was not an interlocutory pendente lite support order issued pursuant to § 108, but rather a final order of alimony issued pursuant to § 109. The Superior Court lacked authority to award pendente lite support under § 108, given that it had already entered a judgment in the divorce action which dissolved the parties’ marriage and, by extension, terminated the husband’s obligation to support the wife pursuant to § 342. Superior Court lacked the authority to award alimony after the divorce had already been granted; the former wife was required to assert a claim for alimony in her answer or other pleading and should not have been permitted to make such a claim in a motion filed almost one month after entry of the divorce decree. An interpretation of 16 V.I.C. § 110 to permit the Superior Court to modify a divorce decree to provide for alimony, even if alimony had never been sought, has been rejected by the only Virgin Islands court to have considered the question, and the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions have construed similar statutes to hold that divorce decrees may be modified to include alimony or other types of spousal support at a later date only if the decree includes an express provision retaining jurisdiction to permit a future application for spousal support. A divorce decree—even one that does not resolve every outstanding issue between the parties—is not an interlocutory order, but a final order, see 16 V.I.C. § 109, and thus is not subject to plenary modification, but like other final judgments may only be altered in certain specifically enumerated circumstances. And while the February 14, 2022 divorce decree expressly retained jurisdiction to determine an appropriate distribution of the parties’ marital assets, it did not retain or reserve jurisdiction to award alimony or any other support payments at some future date. Consequently, the Superior Court lacked authority to order the former husband to make any support, maintenance, or attorney’s fees payments, and the portion of the August 23, 2022 order requiring the former husband to pay the former wife cash per month, provide her with $5,000 credit card access per month, and to pay a one-time sum of $350,000 for legal expenses, is reversed. On remand, the Superior Court is directed promptly to resolve the last remaining issue before it—the distribution of marital assets.Attachment: Open Document or Opinion