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State ex rel. Des v. Pandola

Supreme Court of Arizona

January 26, 2018

STATE OF ARIZONA EX REL. DES, Petitioner/Appellee,
v.
THOMAS PANDOLA, Respondent/Appellee. TIFFANYG. TAYLOR, Petitioner/Appellant,

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County The Honorable Veronica W. Brame, Judge Pro Tempore No. FC2002-010919

         Opinion of the Court of Appeals, Division One 240 Ariz. 543 (App. 2016)

          Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, Dominic Draye, Solicitor General, Paula S. Bickett, Chief Counsel, Civil Appeals Section, Carol A. Salvati, Assistant Attorney General, Phoenix, Attorneys for State of Arizona

          Gregory B. Iannelli (argued), Bryan Cave LLP, Phoenix, Attorney for Tiffany G. Taylor

          Jay R. Bloom (argued), Norman Katz, Katz & Bloom, P.L.C., Phoenix, Attorneys for Thomas Pandola

          JUSTICE GOULD authored the opinion of the Court, in which CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER, and JUSTICES BRUTINEL, TIMMER, BOLICK, and LOPEZ joined.

          GOULD JUSTICE

         ¶1 Arizona's Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("AUIFSA") governs the registration of child support orders entered out of state. A.R.S. §§ 25-1301 to -1308. We hold that AUIFSA, by its terms, allows an obligee to contest an obligor's statement of child support arrears notwithstanding the obligee's failure to request a hearing within twenty days of receiving notice of the order's registration.

         I.

         ¶2 In August 2014, Thomas Pandola ("Father") registered a 2004 child support order from Illinois in Arizona. The registration included Father's sworn statement he was "not aware of any child support arrears owed to [Mother] in this matter." In September, counsel for Tiffany Taylor ("Mother") accepted service of the registration documents, including Father's statement of arrearages. In October, Father filed a proposed form of judgment stating the amount of arrears was "zero dollars."

         ¶3 In November, Mother requested a hearing to contest the amount of arrears in Father's proposed judgment. Because Mother's request was filed more than twenty days after her attorney accepted service, the family court determined that her request was untimely and that she was precluded from contesting Father's arrears statement. As a result, the court confirmed Father's arrears were "zero through August 14, 2014." Mother appealed.

         ¶4 A split panel of the court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. State ex rel. DES v. Pandola, 240 Ariz. 543, 549 ¶ 34 (App. 2016). The court unanimously agreed Mother failed to timely object to Father's arrears statement. Id. at 546-47 ¶¶ 14, 18. However, the majority concluded that while Mother's untimely objection barred her from contesting the amount of arrears in the Illinois support order, it did not preclude her from contesting the allegations in Father's arrears statement. Id. at 548-49 ¶¶ 28, 30-31. The dissent reasoned that Mother's untimely objection was barred under AUIFSA. Id. at 550 ¶¶ 36-38 (Jones, J., dissenting).

         ¶5 We granted review because Mother raises an issue of statewide importance, specifically, whether under AUIFSA a non- registering obligee may contest a registering obligor's arrears statement if she fails to contest the statement ...


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