The act entitled, "Modification of permanent Alimony Judgments," (Ga. L. 1955, p. 630), shows no legislative intent that it should be applied to alimony judgments rendered prior to the passage of the act.
The plaintiff filed an action against her former husband to modify an alimony decree. It was alleged that, in May, 1942, a final verdict and decree were entered in the superior court, wherein the defendant was required to pay $10 per month for the support of each child of the parties until 18 years of age, and that two of the children for whom such allowance was made are now 16 and 14 years of age, respectively. At the time the original decree was entered, the defendant owned property of an approximate value of $6,500. At the time of the filing of the application to modify, the defendant is worth approximately $200,000. The plaintiff prayed for process and for revision of the alimony decree.
The defendant demurred to the petition on the ground that it failed to set forth a cause of action against him, and on the further ground that the act approved March 9, 1955, entitled, "Modification of Permanent Alimony Judgments," (Ga. L. 1955, p. 630), is unconstitutional and void, being in violation of the Constitution, art. I, sec. III, par. Il (Code, Ann., 2-302), if applied to an alimony judgment rendered prior to the passage of the act.
The demurrers were overruled, and the exception is to that judgment.
Formerly a final decree for alimony, unexcepted to, passed beyond the discretionary control of the trial judge, and he had no authority to modify its terms. Coffee v. Coffee, 101 Ga. 787
(28 S. E. 977); Wilkins v. Wilkins, 146 Ga. 382
(91 S. E. 415); Gilbert v. Gilbert, 151 Ga. 520
(107 S. E. 490); Estes v. Estes, 192 Ga. 100
(14 S. E. 2d 680); Roberson v. Roberson, 210 Ga. 346
(80 S. E. 2d 283). In the present case it is contended that the final decree rendered in 1942 may now revised by the judge of the superior court under the act entitled, "Modification of Permanent Alimony Judgments," approved March 9, 1955 (Ga. L. 1955, p. 630).
Retroactive laws are prohibited by the Constitution and statutes of this State. Constitution, art. I, sec. III, par. II (Code, Ann., 2-302); Code 102-104. The rights of parties as fixed by a solemn judgment, which has long since passed beyond the rules of law applicable to review, can not be vacated, abrogated, modified, or set aside under the contention that the General Assembly has modified the remedy applicable to such judgments.
Moore v. Gill, 43 Ga. 388; Home Insurance Co. v. Willis, 179 Ga. 509 (176 S. E. 371).
Laws prescribe for the future. Unless a statute, either expressly or by necessary implication, shows that the General Assembly intended that it operate retroactively, it will be given only prospective application. Bond v. Munro, 28 Ga. 597; Moore v. Gill, supra; Sovereign Camp Woodmen of the World v. Thornton, 115 Ga. 798 (42 S. E. 236); Bank of Norman Park v. Colquitt County, 169 Ga. 534 (150 S. E. 841); Moore v. Howard, 181 Ga. 605 (183 S. E. 495); Walker County Fertilizer Co. v. Napier, 184 Ga. 861 (193 S. E. 770); Smith v. Pindar Real Estate Co., 187 Ga. 229 (200 S. E. 131); Eibel v. Forrester, 194 Ga. 439 (22 S. E. 2d 96). The act entitled, "Modification of Permanent Alimony Judgments," neither expressly nor by implication shows a legislative intent that it should be applied to alimony judgments rendered prior to the passage of the act.
The demurrers of the defendant should have been sustained, and the action dismissed.
Judgment reversed. All the Justices concur, except Wyatt, P. J., not participating.