Thomas H. Nelson and Donna J. Zullo Nelson - Page 7

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              Petitioners, however, do not agree that the alimony                    
          provisions contained in the divorce decree were part and parcel             
          of the division of marital property between petitioner and his              
          former spouse.  They further argue that even if so, because the             
          payments fit within the definition of alimony for Federal income            
          tax purposes, the intended purpose for the payments is of no                
          consequence.  For the following reasons, we agree with                      
          petitioners' second argument.                                               
               Respondent invites us to distinguish between a payment made            
          as part of a division of marital property and one made for                  
          spousal support.  As noted in the portions of the appellate                 
          court's opinion reproduced above, that distinction "can often be            
          difficult to discern".  Under prior law we would have been                  
          compelled to do so.  However, under section 71(b) the distinction           
          need not be made.  In an attempt to avoid the exact type of                 
          dispute involved here, the Congress, mindful that the term                  
          "alimony" is used and interpreted differently from State to                 
          State, amended a prior version of section 71 in order to provide            
          a uniform and objective definition of the term for Federal income           
          tax purposes.  For a discussion on this point, see Cunningham v.            
          Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 1994-474.                                          
               Neither the June 11, 1989, order of the divorce court, nor             
          the opinion of the appellate court affirming that order changed             
          or modified the divorce decree.  Consequently, the dispute                  

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