Legal Subject: Aliment

Case Date Legal Subject Abstract
Binning v. Binning 21 Jan 1767 Succession, Testament, Aliment The Pursuer, Helen Binning, sought 500 merks (Scots) willed to her father as aliment by her grandfather in a 1733 deed of settlement. The Pursuer's father, Patrick Binning, died young, after marrying at age sixteen. The parties in this case disagreed over whether or not Patrick married with the consent of his father. Helen, the only child of the marriage, was raised in her grandfather's home after the death of her father. The Defender, James Binning, was Helen Binning's uncle, eldest son of James Binning the elder. The Defender claimed that since his brother, Patrick Binning, died before reaching majority and before his father's death, Helen Binning's claim to her father's aliment payment was invalid. Upon the death of Margaret Binning, Helen's grandmother, in 1762, Helen brought action before the sheriff of Linlithgow against her uncle for payment of the 500 merks.
Greig v. Johnston 1782 Aliment, Proof Helen Greig sued Archibald Johnston for maintenance of a child alleged to be his. Johnston argued that Greig had already discharged her maintenance claim as part of a settlement agreement. Greig denied having discharged the claim, and challenged the evidence offered by Johnson.
Mrs Anne Nielson, &c v. Austins 14 Jan 1767 Aliment, Debt This case involved a dispute over how much money a husband owed his wife's family in aliment so that the wife could live with her family and the marriage could remain secret. William Sloan (deceased) and Anne Nielson (the Pursuer) married in secret in 1752 when Nielson was only seventeen. At the time, Sloan was in divinity school and felt that the relationship would be perceived as inappropriate for a man of his upbringing and occupation. Once married, Sloan claimed that revealing his part in a secret or clandestine marriage would be equally fatal to his career. In 1754, he granted bond to Neilson's trustees, her brother and uncle, to pay an annual stipend to Nielson's family to cover her living expenses. During their marriage and until Sloan's death in 1765, Anne Nielson and William Sloan never lived together as husband and wife. Sloan lived and worked as a minister in Dunscore, while Nielson lived with her mother in Edinburgh. When the case came before the Court of Session in 1765, the Court ruled that Sloan, who had died in debt, could only have been expected to pay Anne Nielson what he could reasonably afford, and the Court reduced the yearly payment due to Anne Nielson from the amount claimed by her trustees. The Nielson family appealed this decision. Sloan's executors also argued that due to Nielson's silence about her marriage when Sloan was alive, Sloan's creditors had no knowledge of Sloan's financial obligations to his wife at the time they lent him money, and that her latent claims to aliment were now unjustly delaying repayment of debts due to Sloan's creditors.
William Cunninghame and Co. v. James Craig of Baidland 1778 Aliment, Maryland In July 1769, John Craig, son of James Craig of Baidland, contracted with Cunninghame and Co. to serve for five years as an indentured servant in "any of their stores in Virginia or Maryland." Towards the end of his contract, he allegedly became gravely ill. Cunninghame and Co. advanced money to cover his medical bills. Cunninghame & Co. brought action against Craig of Baidland for repayment of this debt, claiming that they had extracted a guarantee from his son to accept the bill provided they released him from his contract. The cause came before Lord Ankerville, who assoilzied (absolved) the defender. The pursuers then petitioned the Court for review, arguing that it was the "natural obligation" of parents to pay for their children's support. Furthermore, the pursuers claimed that they had been obliged to advance the money in question as a result of the "duty incumbent on every man to save his neighbour's life." In his answer, James Craig wrote that he could not afford to cover the expenses of his adult son who had supported himself for years. Furthermore, Craig noted that after settling in North America his son "acquired habits of dissipation and extravagance" and that most or all of the sum advanced by the pursuers was likely to sustain this spendthrift lifestyle, and not to cover medical bills. After all, “It may likewise be observed, that if the assistance may not be had, of the most skilled, even for a less sum than the salary due to John Craig, very miserable must be the situation of numbers, both in America and elsewhere.” Craig's answers concluded by asking what would happen if every parent were compelled to accept the bills of their children who, living in far-off lands, made unverifiable claims of sickness as the cause of their debt.