George F. Walker - Page 13

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          spouse must not be liable for any payments under the divorce or             
          separation instrument after the death of the payee spouse.  In              
          the present case, the separation agreement provides that the                
          payments are to cease upon the death of petitioner, while the               
          agreement is silent regarding the obligation to make payments               
          upon the death of petitioner's former wife, Mary Walker.                    
          Respondent argues that, since the obligation to make payments               
          does not cease upon the death of Mary Walker, payments made                 
          pursuant to the separation agreement do not constitute alimony.             
               Contrary to respondent's contention, the separation agree-             
          ment's failure to address the termination of payments upon the              
          death of Mary Walker is not fatal to petitioner's position.                 
          Often State law defines the rights of the spouses with regard to            
          postmarriage support payments.  By its terms, the separation                
          agreement is to be construed in accordance with the laws of the             
          State of Maryland.  Maryland law provides that a husband and wife           
          may make a valid and enforceable settlement of alimony.  Md. Code           
          Ann., Fam. Law sec. 8-101(b) (1991).  Under Maryland law, unless            
          the parties agree otherwise, alimony terminates on the death of             
          either party.  Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law sec. 11-108(1) (1991).  We           
          find that petitioner and Mary Walker did not agree that the                 
          payments would extend beyond the death of Mary, and therefore,              
          under State law, petitioner's obligation to make payments would             
          cease at her death.  As a result, we conclude that the payments             

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