Thousands of Arizona support orders are void.
Seriously. Not joking. A recent court of appeals case has held that if the exact registration and certification requirements of UIFSA were not followed when you “domesticated” your out of state order, it is VOID.
Here is what happened: Mr. and Mrs. Glover married in Massachusetts, had a son, and divorced some years later. Part of their divorce included a child support order of about $1600 per month to mother. Several years later, Mother, Father and the child moved to Arizona. Father filed a certified copy of the Mass. Judgment in Arizona and simultaneously asked to modify the order. The parties agreed in a binding rule 69 Agreement to modify the support down to about $600 per month. Arizona entered the modification and accepted jurisdiction.
Later, the State intervened in the case, as it is allowed to do to be heard on past due and ongoing child support issues. The state sought to enforce and assess arrears on the Mass. Child support order. The court retroactively modified child support down so that Father didn’t owe Mother tens of thousands of dollars. Mother appealed. The Court of appeals said this:
IF AN OUT OF STATE SUPPORT ORDER IS NOT REGISTERED ACCORDING TO UIFSA, THIS STATE DOES NOT HAVE SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION TO MODIFY IT, AND THE ARIZONA ORDER IS VOID.
And guess what else? The directions on the self help center for how to register an out of state order is wrong. The result of this decision is that lawyers, judges, and self represented parties have been registering out of state orders incorrectly, making the subsequent Arizona modifications void!
If you had an out of state order and you have moved to Arizona, you may have a problem.
Here is what UIFSA requires for proper registration:
1. A letter to the clerk of the Arizona court requesting registration and enforcement.
2. Two copies- One of which is certified- of the order to be registered and any subsequent modifications.
3. A sworn statement from the person who is owed arrearages or from the custodian of records of this original state, showing the exact arrearage.
4. The name of the obligor and other useful demographic information about him/her if known.
After you do your part and register that Order correctly, the COURT must provide notice of the registration to the obligor (person paying support) and give them the opportunity to dispute the arrearages. If contested, the obligor gets a hearing. If they don’t contest within 20 days THEN and only THEN do you have a correctly registered and confirmed order according to UIFSA.
The bottom line is that if you have an order that was registered here, or domesticated here, your order may be void. If you have questions, talk to an attorney. You can give us a call at 480-649-2905.