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Auten v. Auten

308 N.Y. 155, 124 N.E.2d 99 (1954)

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Auten v. Auten

New York Court of Appeals

308 N.Y. 155, 124 N.E.2d 99 (1954)

Facts

Margarite Auten (plaintiff) and Harold Auten (defendant) were married in England and lived there for several years with their children. Harold abandoned Margarite, obtained a divorce in Mexico without her involvement, and ultimately moved to New York. Margarite came to New York and entered into a separation agreement with Harold requiring him to make monthly payments for the support of Margarite and their children, with the payments to be made in English pounds. The support payments were to be made through a trustee located in New York. The separation agreement further provided that neither party would file suit against the other with regard to the separation. After the separation agreement was executed, Margarite returned to England, where she continued to live with the children. After Margarite’s return to England, Harold stopped making payments. Margarite filed an action in England seeking separation and obtained alimony pending litigation, but she never litigated the matter to conclusion. Years later, Margarite filed an action in New York seeking to recover arrearages under the separation agreement. Harold argued that Margarite’s commencement of the action in England was a repudiation of the separation agreement. The lower courts, applying New York law, held that Margarite had repudiated the separation agreement by filing the action in England, and they dismissed her complaint.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fuld, J.)

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