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In re Grow

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department D

October 22, 2013

In re the Matter of: JARED ROBERT GEORGE GROW, Petitioner/Appellee,
v.
JENNIFER MARIE GROW, Respondent/Appellant.

Not for Publication – Rule 28, Arizona Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause Nos. FC2009-071164 and FC2009-071402 (consolidated) The Honorable Harriett Chavez, Judge.

Jared Robert George Grow, Avondale Petitioner/Appellee in Propria Persona.

Jennifer Marie Grow Surprise Respondent/Appellant in Propria Persona.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

DONN KESSLER, Judge.

¶1 Jennifer Marie Grow ("Mother") appeals from the family court's orders revising terms of the 2010 consent decree that dissolved her marriage to Jared Robert George Grow ("Father"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm the family court's finding on the effective date of the consent decree, and reverse and remand the court's order regarding the claiming of dependents for tax purposes.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 The parties were married in 2006 and had two children, Son and Daughter ("Children"). In 2009, Mother and Father separately petitioned the family court for dissolution of their marriage. The court consolidated the cases and ordered Father to pay $1, 500 per month for spousal maintenance and $421.09 per month for child support ("Temporary Orders").

¶3 In mid-March 2010, the parties executed and filed a settlement agreement ("Settlement Agreement") in which they agreed to share joint legal custody of the Children, Father assented to pay Mother $375 in monthly child support through December 2010, and they agreed neither party was entitled to spousal maintenance. At the end of the month, Father paid Mother an amount for maintenance and support he calculated by retroactively applying the Settlement Agreement's terms to the "second half of the month." Mother objected to the payment, reminding Father that they had agreed the Settlement Agreement's terms would not be effective until the consent decree was "signed into orders."

¶4 The parties presented the family court with a consent decree ("Decree") that reiterated Father's support and maintenance obligations as set forth in the Settlement Agreement. The Decree also contained a detailed equal parenting time schedule and provided that Mother and Father shall each claim one child per year as a dependent for tax purposes. The court approved and signed the Decree on Friday July 30, 2010 and filed it Tuesday August 3, 2010. Issues subsequently arose between the parties regarding adherence to the parenting time schedule and Father's compliance with his support and maintenance obligations.

¶5 In 2012, Father filed a petition for order to show cause and motion for contempt arguing Mother violated the Decree by interfering with his parenting time schedule and claiming both children as dependents for the 2010 tax year. In response, Mother alleged Father failed to fulfill his spousal maintenance and child support obligations under the Temporary Orders because, as of mid-March 2010, he ceased paying any maintenance and began paying only $375 per month in child support. According to Mother, Father's obligations under the Temporary Orders regarding maintenance ($1, 500/month) and support ($421.09/month) were enforceable until September 1, 2010, the date Mother posited as the Decree's effective date. The family court held an evidentiary hearing at which Mother admitted she improperly claimed both Children as dependents in 2010, and she agreed to file an amended return deleting the tax credit for Son.

¶6 The court issued a signed minute entry modifying certain terms of the Decree. Specifically, the court found Father in arrears on his spousal maintenance obligations under the Temporary Orders for the period of March 1, 2010 through July 31, 2010, the day after the court signed the Decree.[1] The court also issued an order "that Father shall be entitled to claim both children" for the 2011 tax year.

¶7 Mother filed a motion to correct an error in the minute entry pursuant to Arizona Rule of Family Law Procedure ("ARFLP") 85. Mother requested that the family court delete its order entitling Father to claim both children for tax purposes in 2011, and amend the order to be consistent with the Decree's provision that each parent may claim one child. Mother argued that permitting Father to claim both children in 2011 was erroneous because she agreed to amend her 2010 tax return by deleting her claim regarding Son.

¶8 Mother also filed a motion to amend the judgment pursuant to ARFLP 82(B). In this motion, Mother requested that the court enlarge the time period regarding Father's arrearages to include the month of August 2010. Mother argued that pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section 25- 327(A) (2007), because the Decree was filed on August 3, 2010, the parties were subject to the Temporary Orders' provisions through August 31, ...


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