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Personal Jurisdiction Over a Non Resident in an Arizona Child Support Case

Posted on : October 11, 2016, By:  Christopher Hildebrand
Personal Jurisdiction Over a Non-Resident in Arizona Child Support Case

Personal Jurisdiction Over a Non-Resident in an Arizona Child Support Case

Arizona courts only have jurisdiction over non-resident parents if they have sufficient contacts with the state. Otherwise, a court violates due process by hearing a case involving non-residents. When a non-resident father requests an Arizona court to lower his court support payments, does he consent to jurisdiction? The Court of Appeals considered this issue in the case State Ex Rel. Dept. of Econ. SEC. v. Burton, 66 P.3d 70 (2003).

Facts of the Case

Personal Jurisdiction Over a Non-Resident in an Arizona Child Support Case.

Personal Jurisdiction Over a Non-Resident in an Arizona Child Support Case.

Mr. Burton and Mrs. Swart are the parents of Christopher, born in Minnesota in 1985. The Minnesota court ordered Mr. Burton to pay $437 a month in child support starting in 1987. Mrs. Swart and the child moved to Arizona and Mr. Burton to California. In 2001, the State of Arizona registered the Minnesota child support order under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.

It also filed a request to modify child support because Mr. Bruton was no longer a practicing attorney. Mr. Bruton wrote to the court, stating that he had asked the State to file the modification petition. His letter requested permission to appear by telephone at the hearing. The trial court granted his request.

Before the hearing date, Mrs. Swart filed a contempt petition based on Mr. Bruton’s failure to pay child support. The trial court refused modification and found Mr. Bruton in contempt. When Mr. Bruton moved for rehearing, the court rejected the motion. The court issued a formal enforcement judgment and order. It found Mr. Bruton submitted to jurisdiction by requesting the court to modify the child support order. He also submitted to jurisdiction when he participated in the support hearing.

The court awarded Mrs. Swart a judgment for arrearages in the principal amount of $72,470 and interest of $40,446.03. Finally, the court found Mr. Bruton in contempt for failure to pay child support. It ordered him to pay a lump sum of $1000, plus $437 per month for the next twenty-four months. Mr. Bruton appealed.

Jennifer, thank you for being my attorney. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome of my family court hearing. Everything you have done for me throughout this case reflects in the final ruling of the judge. You helped me keep my head together and taught me a lot about myself as a person. I learned so much about my life from observing and listening to you. I will take all the advice you gave me to continue taking responsibility for my choices, continue to put the kids' needs first, and always stay truthful. Your diligence, dedication, and persistence in my case made what seemed impossible, possible. You are a wonderful person and an amazing attorney and I am stronger and more confident because of you.
A Google User
A Google User
20:31 20 Sep 17
I just want to again thank the Firm for working with me all that it has. I could not have done anything without everyone's assistance. You, Chris and Stacey have been and continue to provide me with compassion and hard work towards my case. Also a very special thanks to Kip for taking my case in the beginning. Also continued support from him and his dedication to providing me with his expertise in this matter.
A Google User
A Google User
21:41 07 Nov 17
After interviewing several law firms, I came across Jennifer Shick, and her firm, who I hired to represent me for my Family Court case. Jennifer has extensive knowledge of the law and is determined to bring the truth to every issue involved within the case. Throughout my case, Jennifer was prepared meticulously as well as went above and beyond all of my expectations. Even when the other party tried to differ from the truth, lie to the Judge, and turn situations around, Jennifer remained attentive and provided substantial evidence to show the judge the facts as well as the proof to support what was the best interests of my children. Additionally, Jennifer helped me endure many difficult experiences, situations and inspired me to remain positive throughout the entirety of my case. Her kindness, compassion, and professionalism helped me through very difficult times and made the process feel a thousand times lighter on my shoulders. She truly has my children and my best interest at heart and I trust her perspective as well as her honesty on each and every aspect of my case. She lessened the burden on my shoulders and even when I felt like the case was not going to go in my favor, Jennifer was open-minded and reassured me that the Judge would, in fact, see the truth, which he did and the case went in my favor. After nine months of court, everything finally came together. I cannot declare how much Jennifer has been an outstanding attorney. She addressed each and every issue with diligence, she cares about her clients and their families. Jennifer genuinely cares about her clients and her dedication to the details of the case was remarkable. Overall, I am extremely pleased with Jennifer’s services and I am truly thankful that I was so blessed to have her represent my children and me. I highly recommend Jennifer as one of the best attorneys in Arizona and if the situation ever arises, I will definitely have her represent my children and me again.
Google User
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14:58 04 Oct 17
Dear Stacey and Kip, How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through the most difficult time in my life? I couldn't put into words my heartfelt gratefulness. You both were so compassionate and professional at every given moment throughout this process with me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me to regain my freedom.
A Google User
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16:03 22 Nov 17
I was a client of Attorney Kevin Park for the dissolution of a divorce in 2016. And since I had never had the need to hire an attorney before for any purpose, I was somewhat apprehensive of the process. But the very calm and professional demeanor of Mr. Park eased my fears. He adeptly answered all my questions and I clearly knew the process and what to expect. And the skilled manner he communicated with opposing counsel was perfect. When it came down to negotiating with my spouse’s counsel, I knew I had selected the best attorney for my situation. What I noticed and appreciated was that he was using just the right amount of pressure with opposing counsel as was necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a seasoned professional like Mr. Park on your side. I'm very grateful that he was my attorney and not the opposition!
A Google User
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22:14 28 Jun 17
Chris is a smart and aggressive attorney for his clients. Chris always tries to reach a fair settlement of his cases. I’ve represented clients when Chris was the opposing counsel and while he is professional and amicable to work with, he does not back off on what he needs to do for his client
A Google User
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18:16 18 Sep 17
Kevin Park of Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys was just what I needed for my divorce. He was very approachable and personable. He was quick to recognize what I needed and provided it quickly and efficiently. I hope to never need a divorce lawyer again, but if I know anyone else who does, I will definitely recommend Kevin.
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19:22 23 Aug 17
I feel that Tracey Van Wickler is certainly one of the best family lawyers around. She is logical, intelligent, and truly cares. Tracey always does what is in the clients best interest, does it well, timely and with integrity. She is good at keeping her clients informed as to what is going on and clear in her communication both written and verbally. I have recommended Tracey to other people and will continue to recommend her. I recommended Tracey to someone who was having issues with their ex-wife and his response was, “I know how good she is because I went up against her and she ate me for lunch”. This same person was so impressed with her, he even recommended her to someone else, WOW, that is impressive! I am exceptionally happy with her attention to detail, her ability to explain things in ways that are easy to understand, as well as her ability to keep everyone focused on the most important things. I would recommend Tracey to anyone who may be in need of her services.
A Google User
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17:44 23 Jun 16
I retained Hildebrand Law after interview a number of firms in the valley. Working with Michael C. was incredibly easy and informative. My case progressed in such a organized and thought out way to ensure that my needs were met. Michael was incredibly proactive and was able to see far ahead into my case to steer clear of some roadblocks. I would not hesitate to recommend Michael Clancy, and Hildebrand Law in general, to anyone.
Bassam Ziadeh
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21:20 02 Apr 18
I have worked with Hildebrand law for about 8 years. They are always ready to serve, provide guidance and give you a few options. When they provide you options they also take the time to walk you through the pros and cons of each and give you a recommendation of what is best, but will listen to you and support whatever course you choose after making and educated choice. I’d recommend them to my closest friends and feel Chris Hildebrand is now a friend to me.
Larry Flint
Larry Flint
21:53 27 Feb 18
Despite the unfortunate situation I found myself in, Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law helped me maneuver every step with professionalism, expertise, and even a sensitivity that was an added bonus.Chris and his staff helped me even when I didn't know I needed the help. In other words. . . they made sure we did not leave anything undone. And in the rare instance we needed the expertise of another professional, Chris knew exactly who to recommend.Chris also knew, because of his experience, what to anticipate down the road of litigation. That meant we were better prepared to meet the challenges head on, which lead to a more equitable and fair outcome. I appreciated that Chris did his best to meet my every need in a timely fashion, even if I had a simple question that required only a phone call or e-mail or if we needed to talk face-to-face.I highly recommend Chris Hildebrand @ Hildebrand Law, PC.
Sam Franchimone
Sam Franchimone
22:09 12 Sep 13

Personal Jurisdiction over Bruce

Under the uniform act, Arizona courts have jurisdiction over a nonresident if he or she enters a general appearance in a child support case. Any action on the part of a party other than an objection to personal jurisdiction constitutes a general appearance. Participation in one proceeding confers personal jurisdiction for all related support issues. It violates due process if a state exercises personal jurisdiction over a nonresident father unless he has sufficient connections to the state.

Arizona Child Support Case: Personal Jurisdiction Over Non-Resident.

Arizona Child Support Case: Personal Jurisdiction Over Non-Resident.

Here, Mr. Bruton requested the Arizona court to modify child support on his behalf. He asked to appear and did appear at the hearing telephonically. The Court of Appeals ruled that Mr. Bruton consented to personal jurisdiction. He deliberately used the Arizona court to seek a downward adjustment in child support. He participated in a hearing on the issue. By bringing support issues before the court, Mr. Bruton submitted to jurisdiction as to all support and enforcement issues.

Denial of Mr. Bruton’s Request for Modification

Mr. Bruton appeals the trial court’s denial of his request to modify child support. He alleges he is disabled. He says that his only income is $750 per month in Supplemental Social Security Income (“SSI”). However, he failed to provide an audio tape or transcript of the trial court’s modification hearing for the appellate court’s review. Also, the letter from the Social Security Administration attached to his briefing was not part of the record on appeal. Therefore, nothing before the Court supported Mr. Bruton’s position on this issue.

The Contempt Order

Mr. Bruton also appealed the contempt order and the order to pay $1,000 plus monthly payments for 24 months. Under the uniform act, a court can enforce its orders by means of civil or criminal contempt, or both. A court ordered Mr. Bruton to pay $437 a month in child support in 1987. At that point he was a practicing attorney yet he paid little or no support for his child. The Court of Appeals ruled that the judge didn’t err in finding him in contempt for non-payment of child support.

Disposition

The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment and contempt order below.



 

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