In re the Marriage of Cassandra Allen, Petitioner/Appellee, and Lynn Allen, Respondent/Appellant.
from the Superior Court in Pinal County No. S1100DO201300816
The Honorable DeLana J. Fuller, Judge Pro Tempore
Powell Law Firm, PLLC, Tucson By Jay K. Powell Counsel for
M. Schauf, PLLC, Tucson By Susan M. Schauf Counsel for
Staring authored the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding
Judge Howard and Judge Espinosa concurred.
Lynn Allen appeals the trial court's rulings denying him
a credit for the receipt of dependent child social security
disability benefits ("DSSD") by his former spouse,
Cassandra Quinonez. The DSSD payments duplicated money Lynn
had separately paid Cassandra for child support. For the
reasons that follow, we reverse and remand for further
and Procedural Background
We view the record in the light most favorable to upholding
the trial court's decision. Milinovich v.
Womack, 236 Ariz. 612, ¶ 7, 343 P.3d 924, 927 (App.
2015). The parties married in 2011, and had a child in April
2012. Lynn suffered a stroke in December 2012, and
subsequently began receiving long term disability
("LTD") insurance benefits through an
employer-sponsored plan as well as social security disability
income. Cassandra filed for dissolution in May 2013. The
court entered a support order in September, and modified it
in January 2014. The court entered a consent decree in April
In January 2015, Lynn petitioned for modification of child
support, seeking an order requiring Cassandra, as "the
primary custodial parent, " to apply for DSSD for the
child based on Lynn's disability, and for modification of
Lynn's support obligation based on any change to
Lynn's income as a result of DSSD. In the petition,
Lynn also asserted the availability of DSSD reduced the
amount of Lynn's LTD benefits and had caused him to be
deemed to have received overpayments that he was required to
repay to the LTD insurer. He thus requested an order
requiring Cassandra to reimburse the insurer for support Lynn
paid using his LTD benefits.
Pursuant to the trial court's subsequent order, Cassandra
applied for DSSD on behalf of the child, and received a
retroactive DSSD payment of $14, 200 covering the period of
May 2014 to April 2015. She also began receiving $1, 195 in
DSSD for each month starting with May 2015. Cassandra argued
Lynn's duplicate payment was a nonrefundable overpayment
under the Arizona Child Support Guidelines,  and also that
federal law prohibited transferring DSSD to Lynn or
the insurer. Lynn argued the Guidelines entitled him to
credits for both DSSD and the support he paid using his own
funds, and demanded an immediate transfer of the DSSD to
permit him to repay the insurer.
The trial court concluded Cassandra had been "enriched
with the overpayments" and that there was "a flaw
in the policy, " but that it nevertheless had no
authority to order Cassandra to transfer the lump sum payment
to Lynn. The court denied Lynn judgment or any credit for the
$14, 200 lump sum payment, but terminated child support nunc
pro tunc to October 2015, and entered judgment against
Cassandra for five months of duplicate payments Lynn had made
after monthly DSSD commenced. Lynn timely appealed. We have
jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(2).
On appeal, Lynn argues the trial court erred by: 1) not
crediting him for the lump sum payment of derivative benefits
pursuant to Guideline 26(B); 2) granting judgment for
reimbursement of five monthly support overpayments when he
had overpaid a total of six months; and 3) terminating rather
than modifying his support obligation.
Benefits and the ...