An issue that has come up in several cases recently is one that all parties and attorneys should be aware of. It involves how to modify an out of state child support judgment in the Arizona courts and the procedure to do so.
The most common scenario is where the payee (person receiving child support) resides in Arizona with the child(ren) and the payor (person making the payments) resides outside the State of Arizona. The parties have an out of state child support order either as part of a divorce decree, paternity judgment, etc. , and the payor desires to either modify, or perhaps terminate, the out of state child support order, and they want the Arizona courts to do so. How to do it?
Because in this scenario the payee resides in Arizona and payor desires to modify or terminate the order in Arizona, initially, Arizona would have personal jurisdiction over both parties to do so.
In the past, in order to accomplish the desired result, an exemplified copy (double certified copy) of the divorce decree or paternity order would be filed in Arizona, under the Uniform Enforcement Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA) to “domesticate” the foreign judgment in Arizona. After a short passage of time, and no objections being raised, the foreign judgment then became subject to Arizona modifying, terminating, etc.
Several years ago, a new statute was enacted at the federal level, which all states were compelled to adopt, called the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). You now must register the foreign child support order in Arizona under UIFSA in order to terminate or modify it! There is a specific procedure set forth under A.R.S.’25-1302, which must be followed. If you do not register the foreign child support order properly under UIFSA, then any order obtained in any other way, is void.
We have recently seen where parties have both “domesticated” the foreign judgment, i.e. child support order, in Arizona under the UEFJA, then have the Court modify the child support order, only to learn years later, that the order was void. At that point, one of the parties will undoubtedly be very unhappy.
Should you have any questions concerning modification of out of state decree or order, please contact our office for a free initial consultation. Our practice is limited to family law, including divorces, custody, child support, paternity, grandparent visitation, orders of protection, cohabitation, as well wills, living wills, and Powers of Attorney.