Start Date for Temporary Support in Arizona
Arizona laws are used to determine spousal maintenance, child support and family support awards and amounts. In some cases, the court finds a temporary family support award appropriate. An issue that may arise is when to set the start date for temporary support in Arizona.
Laws and specifications regarding the handling of awards varies when comparing awards as set down in a final Decree to a temporary family support award. The differences between how the two types of financial awards are handled can lead to difficulties in interpreting the law as pertaining to the situation at hand. Such seemed to be the case with Maximov v. Maximov.
Background of the Case: Ronit Maximov, Respondent-Appellant, v. Eitan Maximov, Petitioner-Appellee
Ronit Rosenberg and Eitan Maximov were married on August 7, 1998. Eitan petitioned for a dissolution of marriage on October 26, 2005. At that point in time, the couple had one child and Ronit was pregnant with a second child.
The decree of dissolution was entered by the family court on July 30, 2007. Included in the final Decree were changes to the temporary family support awarded prior to the court proceedings that were made effective prior to the date on which Eitan filed a petition requesting a modification. Ronit attempted to address concerns through post-trial motions that were denied. This appeal followed.
Arizona Laws Determining Temporary Family Support Awards and Amount of Awards:
Ronit Rosenberg Maximov is seeking an appeal to the family court’s decision to reduce and reallocate temporary family support paid by Eitan Maximov from April 2006 through September 2006. The appellate court reviewed the ruling to determine whether there was an abuse of discretion in the decision to modify the amount of support.
The details pertaining to the temporary order of support are as follows: Maximov was ordered to pay his wife $7,500 per month beginning April 1, 2006 for spousal maintenance and child support. He paid this amount from April through September 2006 totaling $45,000.
On September 11, 2006, Eitan filed for a modification of temporary support. Ruling on the motion was deferred by the court until trial. The trial took place on May 1, 2007 and no payments for temporary family support were made from Eitan to Ronit from October 2006 through May 2007.
The judgment decree was entered by the court on July 30, 2007. At this time, the court reduced Eitan’s support obligation from $7,500 per month to $1,826.34 per month. This change was based on the court’s findings that Eitan could not afford compliance with the $7,500 per month award.
The court also allocated the amount Eitan did pay (totaling $45,000) over the time period beginning December 1, 2005 and ending July 31, 2007. In effect, Eitan paid $2,250 per month in temporary support. In light of Eitan’s inability to pay the full amount, Rosenberg’s pending motion to find him in contempt for failure to pay support was denied.
Rosenberg argued that the court violated Arizona Revised Statutes section 25-327 (2007) by decreasing the family support obligation between April and September 2006 because the court allegedly did not have the authority to do so and because the trial court did not determine good cause for the reduction.
She felt the court should have left the $7,500 obligation in place through September 30, 2006 and started the reduced family support obligation on October 1, 2006. Ronit asserts that the court erred in its decision by failing to find the Eitan owed $18,263.40 for temporary family support for the time period when he did not make payments: October 1, 2006 through July 31, 2007.
The difficulty with Ronit’s arguments comes in the statutes she references for her arguments. Section 25-237 (A), A.R.S. does require evidence of substantial and continuing change for a modification or termination of support already in place and note as an exception any amount in arrearage or prior to the date of notice of the motion or order requesting modification or termination. The statute continues to specify that the effective date of such a change cannot be prior to the date of filing the petition.
These statutes, while seemingly applicable at first, do not apply to pre-decree temporary orders for family support. Therefore, the court did not violate the provision when they reduced the family support and reallocated it to cover the ensuing months.
In addition, during court proceedings, it was found that Eitan could not afford the amount originally specified in the temporary support orders. His only source of funds at the time of the order was from borrowed monies. Shortly thereafter he obtained funds through the sale of a 1.4-acre lot (in August 2006). Eitan did not receive any income or other moneys after August 2006.
Conclusion: Findings of the Court of Appeals of Arizona
For the reasons stated above, the appellate court feels the court’s ruling is justified and rejects Ronit Rosenberg Maximov’s arguments. Furthermore, it was decided that the family court did, in fact, have the authority to set the effective date of the modification to the temporary family support to a date prior to the filing of the motion for modification by Eitan Maximov. There was no error in the action. The appellate court affirms the family court had the authority to modify the temporary family support award, as well as the effective date of the modification to a date prior to the filing of the petition for modification.
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