from Coffee Circuit Court (DR-15-900113)
THOMPSON, Presiding Judge.
22, 2015, J.S. ("the husband") filed a complaint in
the Coffee Circuit Court ("the trial court")
seeking a divorce from S.S. ("the wife"). In his
complaint, the husband also sought custody of the
parties' four minor children, an award of child support,
and an equitable distribution of the parties' marital
property. The wife answered and filed a counterclaim in which
she sought an award of custody of the parties' children,
an award of child support, an equitable property division,
and an award of periodic alimony.
trial court conducted an ore tenus hearing. On July 12, 2017,
the trial court entered a divorce judgment that incorporated
certain stipulations of the parties and resolved the
remaining issues in dispute. In its divorce judgment, the
trial court awarded the parties joint legal and physical
custody of the children, ordered the husband to pay child
support, fashioned a property division, and awarded the wife
$1, 500 per month in periodic alimony. The husband timely
appealed on July 14, 2017.
November 27, 2017, while this appeal was pending in this
court, the wife died. If a party dies during the pendency of an
appeal, the appeal does not abate. Rule 43(a), Ala. R. App.
P.; Cox v. Dodd, 242 Ala. 37, 4 So.2d 736 (1941);
Woodruff v. Gazebo E. Apartments, 181 So.3d 1076,
1080 (Ala. Civ. App. 2015); and Kaufman v. Kaufman,
22 So.3d 458, 460 (Ala. Civ. App. 2007). Accordingly, we
address the issues raised by the husband.
husband first argues that the trial court erred in its award
of periodic alimony to the wife. In making that argument, the
husband fails to recognize that, under its express terms, the
periodic-alimony obligation created in the divorce judgment
terminated upon the wife's death. We note that "[a]n
award of periodic alimony need not expressly specify,
however, that the obligation ceases upon the death or
remarriage of the recipient spouse because 'the term
"periodic alimony," by definition, means a payment
to a spouse that will cease upon death, remarriage, or
cohabitation.'" Peace v. Peace, 137 So.3d
905, 911 (Ala. Civ. App. 2012) (quoting Wheeler v.
Wheeler, 831 So.2d 629, 635 (Ala. Civ. App. 2002)).
Thus, because the husband's periodic-alimony obligation
was extinguished at the time of the wife's death, the
arguments the husband raises in his brief to this court on
the issue of periodic alimony with regard to any time after
the wife's death are moot.
regard to the periodic-alimony obligation created by the
divorce judgment, which the husband had a duty to pay until
the date of the wife's death, the husband contends that
the trial court erred when it "mischaracterized"
the purpose of such an award by stating that the award was
for the wife's "contribution to the marital
estate." The husband points out that the trial court may
consider a number of factors, including the length of the
marriage, the parties' respective prospects, and their
standard of living, in fashioning an award of periodic
alimony. The husband appears to contend that the trial
court's failure to mention the specific factors listed
above while, instead, mentioning the wife's contribution
to the marriage rendered the award of periodic alimony
erroneous. We cannot agree.
award of periodic alimony is reviewed together with an
overall division of property.
"'When dividing marital property and determining a
party's need for alimony, a trial court should consider
several factors, including "'the length of the
marriage, the age and health of the parties, the future
employment prospects of the parties, the source, value, and
type of property owned, and the standard of living to which
the parties have become accustomed during the
marriage.'" Ex parte Elliott, 782 So.2d 308
(Ala. 2000) (quoting Nowell v. Nowell, 474 So.2d
1128, 1129 (Ala. Civ. App. 1985)) (footnote omitted). In
addition, the trial court may also consider the conduct of
the parties with regard to the breakdown of the marriage,
even where the parties are divorced on the basis of
incompatibility, or where, as here, the trial court failed to
specify the grounds upon which it based its divorce judgment.
Ex parte Drummond, 785 So.2d 358 (Ala. 2000);
Myrick v. Myrick, 714 So.2d 311 (Ala. Civ. App.
1998). It is well-settled that where a trial court does not
make specific factual findings, the appellate court must
assume that the trial court made those findings necessary to
support its judgment, unless such findings would be clearly
erroneous. Ex parte Fann, 810 So.2d 631 (Ala. 2001);
Ex parte Bryowsky, 676 So.2d 1322 (Ala. 1996).'
"Baggett v. Baggett, 855 So.2d 556, 559-60
(Ala. Civ. App. 2003). In addition to the factors listed
in Baggett v. Baggett, the trial court may also
consider the spouses' relative economic and noneconomic
contributions to the marriage in dividing the marital
property and awarding periodic alimony. Weeks v.
Weeks, 27 So.3d 526, 532-33 (Ala. Civ. App. 2008)."
E.A.B. v. D.G.W., 127 So.3d 422, 431 (Ala. Civ. App.
2012) (emphasis added).
trial court was free to consider, as a part of its decision
to award periodic alimony, the wife's contributions to
the parties' marriage. E.A.B. v. D.G.W., supra;
see also Huckabee v. Huckabee, 544 So.2d 170, 171
(Ala. Civ. App. 1989) ("The division of property and the
award of alimony, after consideration of the equities and
contributions of the parties, are matters which fall within
the broad discretion of the trial court."), and
Walton v. Walton, 409 So.2d 858, 861 (Ala. Civ. App.
provision awarding the wife periodic alimony states, in
"The Court finds in favor of the wife for her
contribution to the marital estate and awards unto the wife
periodic alimony. The husband shall pay to the wife, as
periodic alimony, the sum of One Thousand Five Hundred and
No/100 ($1, 500) Dollars per month. Said payments shall begin
on the 1st day of August 2017, and shall continue due and
payable on the 1st day of each calendar month thereafter in
consecutive months, except that same shall terminate in the
event of the [husband's] death, the [wife's] death,
the [wife's] remarriage or cohabitation with a member of
the same or opposite sex, or other order of the Court."
that it is clear from the trial court's judgment that it
did not mistakenly award the wife periodic alimony instead of
alimony in gross, because, in another section of its
judgment, the trial court awarded the wife alimony in gross
using language similar to that in its periodic-alimony
award.The husband focuses most of his argument on
this issue on a contention that the wife requested an award
of periodic alimony as an additional means of support for the
parties' children. Even assuming that the husband's
characterization of the wife's request for periodic
alimony is accurate, the nature a party's request would
not make an award by the trial court erroneous. "It is
well established that this Court will not presume error and
will affirm a judgment appealed from if it is supported on
any valid legal ground." Odom v. Blackburn, 559
So.2d 1080, 1082 (Ala. 1990). The trial court determined that
an award of periodic alimony, together with the property
division, was appropriate under the facts of this case, and