Sister State’s Right to Modify Arizona Support Ruling
Posted on : March 2, 2017, By: Christopher Hildebrand
Sister State’s Right to Modify Arizona Support Ruling
Under URESA, a person living in Arizona can ask the court in another state to enforce an Arizona support order. Can that sister-state court modify the Arizona support order? In Ibach v. Ibach, 600 P.2d 1370 (Ariz. 1979) the Arizona Supreme Court considered the issue.
Ernestine and Maxwell Ibach divorced in September 1971. Maxwell agreed to pay $250 per month in spousal maintenance. In 1973, Maxwell stopped paying $250 per month and started paying $75. He was living in Colorado. Ernestine sued under Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act, URESA, through the Pima County Attorney’s Office.
Maxwell filed a response as well as a motion asking the court to abate or reduce support. At a hearing in 1973 in Colorado, the court found that Maxwell was struggling financially while Ernestine was living a life of luxury. The court ordered that support is modified to $75.00 a month.
Sister States Right to Modify Arizona Support Ruling.
In February 1976, Maxwell stopped paying $75 and started paying $40.00 per month. Ernestine again sued, but the court lowered the support payment to $40.00 per month. It found that Maxwell owed $220.00 in arrears and ordered him to pay an additional $25.00 per month until it was paid off. It also ordered that the support terminate 12 months after the back support was paid.
In November 1976, Ernestine served a writ to garnish Maxwell’s Air Force retirement pay. Maxwell asked the court to nullify the writ. In February 1977, the Pima County Superior Court entered an order voiding all outstanding writs of garnishment. It also ordered a hearing to determine whether the Colorado decisions were valid and how much arrears were due.
In March, the parties agreed that if the original support obligation of $250.00 per month was still in effect, Maxwell owed $8,660.00. If the Colorado orders had validly modified the obligation, Maxwell owed only $1,050.00.
The Pima County Superior Court held that the Colorado orders were valid. It entered judgment for Ernestine for $1,050.00. Ernestine appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed. The Arizona Supreme Court accepted review.
Writs of Garnishment
Ernestine first argues that the trial court should not have quashed the writs of garnishment. These had been issued to collect the spousal maintenance arrearages. The Supreme Court agreed. It noted that, in Arizona, spousal support vests when it becomes due. Therefore, Ernestine had the right to collect arrearages without getting a new judgment.
Ernestine’s second point is that URESA does not give a state court authority to modify another state court’s orders. She claims that its only purpose is to aid a person in enforcing a duty of support. Therefore, she concludes, the court was wrong in using URESA to modify the initial order.
Pertinent URESA statutes in Arizona provide:
“A support order made by a court of this State pursuant to this Act does not nullify and is not nullified by a support order made by a court of this State pursuant to any other law or by a support order made by a court of any other state pursuant to a substantially similar act or any other law, regardless of priority of issuance, unless otherwise specifically provided by the court. Amounts paid for a particular period pursuant to any support order made by the court of another state shall be credited against the amounts accruing or accrued for the same period under any support order made by the court of this State.”
The legislature added this provision to answer the issue of a sister state’s jurisdiction to modify Arizona support payments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Modifying Arizona Support Ruling by Right of Sister States.
Specific Nullifying of Support Order
A support order entered under URESA section 32 only nullifies an Arizona support order if expressly provided by the sister state court. Ernestine claims that the Colorado court did not explicitly repeal the Arizona support decree as required by Section 31. Therefore, she claims, the judgment is void.
The validity of a foreign judgment must be determined under its own rules. Under Colorado law, a court is empowered to correct clerical errors in judgments and orders so that the record will accurately reflect the action taken by the tribunal.
The Colorado court had before it for consideration Ernestine’s request for enforcement of the Arizona support obligation and Maxwell’s motion to reduce or abate support. The court heard testimony from both parties as to their present circumstances. While the Colorado court did not announce that it intended to modify the Arizona orders, the issue was before the tribunal.
The Colorado court, by ordering Maxwell to pay $75.00 per month, apparently designed to change the Arizona support decree. Failure to have a written judgment entered immediately following the Colorado hearing was a mistake by the attorneys or the trial judge which was a clerical error under Colorado law. On these facts, the Pima County Superior Court correctly determined that the Colorado judgment was valid and should be enforced.
The Arizona Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Superior Court quashing appellant’s garnishments. That part of the order and awarding Ernestine $1,050.00 in support arrearages affirmed.
If you have a question about spousal maintence in Arizona, please call to speak to one of our experienced Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona family law attorneys at (480)305-8300.
As Seen on CBS News, ABC News, NBC News, and Fox News