Domesticate Child Support Order in Arizona

The Arizona Court of Appeals in the Glover case previously ruled that a parent seeking to modify a child support order issued by another state court must properly domesticate the child support order in Arizona before an Arizona court has the authority to consider modifying another state’s child support order. The Glover court ruled proper domestication of that child support in Arizona is a jurisdictional requirement and any orders issued to modify another state’s child support order is void if not properly domesticated.

The question now becomes whether the same compliance with properly domesticating a foreign child support order applies when someone files to enforce, instead of modify, a child support order in Arizona that was issued in another state. The Arizona Court of Appeals addressed this issue in the Balazic v.Balazic case.

The Arizona Court of Appeals first rejected the argument that the proper method to domesticate a foreign child support order was to follow Arizona’s Uniform Domestication of Foreign Judgments Act. Instead, the justices indicated the proper method for domesticating a child support order issued by a court of another state in Arizona is to follow the requirements of the Arizona Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

The mother in Balazic domesticated her child support in Arizona without following all of the requirements of the Arizona Uniform Interstate Family Support Act and, therefore, failed to properly domesticate the other state court’s child support order in Arizona before seeking to enforce that child support order in Arizona.

In the Balazic case, the court found Sandra Balazic served her former husband, Kenneth Balazic, with a motion to enforce child support orders previously issued by a North Carolina court. Sandra lived in Arizona and Kenneth lived in Pennsylvania at the time.

Kenneth responded in a timely manner and requested the court reschedule the hearing to a later date, which the court granted. Kenneth, however, failed to appear at the hearing and the court proceeded with the enforcement case and granted judgments to Sandra and against Ken for the amount of back child support owed, as well as a separate judgment for interest owed upon that back child support amount.

Kenneth appealed the courts enforcement of child support to the Arizona Court of Appeals. Kenneth’s primary argument is that Sandra’s failure to properly domesticate the North Carolina child support order, pursuant to the registration requirements set forth in the Arizona Uniform Interstate Family Support Act and that, pursuant to the Arizona Court of Appeals prior decision in the Grover case, the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enforce the North Carolina child support order and asserted the Arizona trial court’s judgments were, therefore, void.

Although Arizona’s version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act does not directly state whether an enforcement action, as opposed to a modification action, should be treated differently for purposes of comparing or contrasting the prior Arizona Court of Appeals conclusion in Glover case, the Arizona court of Appeals in Balazic v. Balazic case did find an important distinction applied to an action to enforce another state’s child support order, as opposed to an action to modify that other state’s child support orders.


Domesticate Child Support Order in Arizona | The Balazic Case

The Court of Appeals in Balazic indicated the Uniform Interstate Support Act was adopted to provide for a “on order rule”, which means the Act was created to avoid having multiple conflicting child support orders in two or more states.

The Act, therefore, has specific requirements to domesticate an out of state child support order when the purpose of doing so is to modify that other state’s child support order. The person seeking to modify the order must prove he or she has a statutory basis for seeking to move jurisdiction over the modification of child support from the other state to Arizona.

The Act, however, has different language pertaining to domesticating a child support from another state when the purpose is not to move jurisdiction over the child support order from the other state but, instead, to simply enforce that foreign state child support order in Arizona.

The Arizona Court of Appeals in the Balazic case concluded simply enforcing, as opposed to modifying, the foreign state’s child support order does not violate the policy underlying the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act because it does not create any danger of violating the “one order rule” upon which the Act was passed.

The Arizona Court of Appeals also noted the legislature included the word “jurisdiction” in the portion of the statute pertaining to modification of another state’s order, but chose not to use the word “jurisdiction” in the part of theAct pertaining to enforcing another state’s child support order in Arizona.

In conclusion, an Arizona court has no jurisdiction to modify another state’s court order if it is not properly domesticated under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act’s requirements. You may not use Arizona’s more general Domestication of Foreign Judgments Act in place of following the procedures in the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. A modification of a child support order issued by an Arizona judge in violation of proper domestication and assumption of jurisdiction is void.

The provisions of the Act, however, pertaining to enforcement of another state’s child support order require proper domestication under the Uniform Interest Family Support Act but, unlike actions to modify support, the domestication provision are procedural and not jurisdictional, such that any orders to enforce another state’s child support order are not voidable even if domestication of that order was done incorrectly.