Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Medeiros v. Medeiros

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

March 1, 2017

VIRGINIA MEDEIROS APPELLANT
v.
JULIO C. MEDEIROS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE MARION COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 45DR-14-125-4] HONORABLE GORDON WEBB, JUDGE.

          Carla Miller and Kimberly Eden, for appellant.

          Samuel J. Pasthing, P. A., by: Samuel J. Pasthing, for appellee.

          PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, Judge.

         Appellant Virginia Medeiros appeals a Marion County Circuit Court order barring enforcement of her claim of spousal support from her ex-husband, appellee Julio Medeiros.[1]On appeal, Virginia contends that the trial court erred in (1) allowing Julio to assert certain equitable defenses, including the equitable defense of laches; (2) applying Arkansas law instead of California law; and (3) determining that her claim was barred by laches. We affirm.

         A brief recitation of the facts is necessary. Virginia and Julio were divorced in the State of California in 1991. Under the terms of the California divorce decree, Julio had an obligation to pay Virginia spousal support. On July 15, 2014, Virginia filed a petition to register her California divorce decree in Arkansas pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act[2] (UIFSA). She also filed a motion for contempt, alleging Julio's failure to make his spousal-support payments under the decree and seeking enforcement of the California judgment in the Arkansas courts. She attached the 1991 divorce decree and an affidavit of arrearage to the petition. At her request, the court scheduled a hearing on her motion for contempt for November 19, 2014.

         Julio was served on August 1, 2014, and on August 26, 2014, he filed an answer to the petition. Julio asserted a general denial to the allegations but specifically raised the affirmative defense of laches, the statute of limitations, and other defenses "found in the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure" and the constitutions of the United States and Arkansas. Virginia responded that Julio had failed to follow the statutory procedure to properly object to the registration of the California decree, that his defenses should not be permitted, and that the registration should be confirmed. The trial court allowed Julio to challenge the registration and then applied the defense of laches to bar Virginia's enforcement of the decree. Virginia appeals.

         Virginia first argues that the trial court erred in allowing Julio to assert a challenge to the registration of their California divorce decree. She argues that Julio's response was untimely and that he failed to request a hearing as required under UIFSA.

         In order to address Virginia's first argument, a review of the statutory requirements of UIFSA is in order. UIFSA is a mechanism by which support orders issued in one state may be registered in another for purposes of enforcement. Here, California issued a support order, and it can be registered in Arkansas for enforcement purposes. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-17-601. UIFSA sets out the procedure for proper registration. On receipt of a proper request for registration, the registering tribunal shall cause the order to be filed as "an order of a tribunal of another state or a foreign support order." Ark. Code Ann. § 9-17-602(b). The support order issued in another state is considered "registered" when the order is filed. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-17-603(a). Here, Virginia properly filed the California decree with the State of Arkansas, and it was registered at the time of filing.

         UIFSA also sets forth the proper procedures for enforcement of a registered support order from another state. Once a support order has been registered pursuant to UIFSA, the nonregistering party shall contest the validity or enforcement by requesting a hearing within twenty days after notice of registration. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 9-17-605 and -606. The only method for contesting the validity of a foreign support order is to request a hearing within twenty days after notice of registration. State of Washington v. Thompson, 339 Ark. 417, 6 S.W.3d 82 (1999). If the nonregistering party fails to timely contest the validity or enforcement of the support order, the order is confirmed by operation of law. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-17-605(b).

         Virginia argues that it is undisputed that Julio did not request a hearing within twenty days of service. Based on his failure to timely contest, she argues that the order was confirmed by operation of law. Once confirmed, Virginia argues, he is precluded from any further contest of the order with respect to any matter that could have been asserted at the time of the registration. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-17-608. Virginia's argument and statement of the law is incomplete because it ignores the UIFSA notice requirement.

         When a support order issued in another state is registered, the registering tribunal of this state shall notify the nonregistering party of the registration. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-17-605(a). The notice requirement under UIFSA is very specific. The notice must be accompanied by a copy of the registered order and the documents and relevant information accompanying the order. Id. The notice must inform the nonregistering party (1) that a registered support order is enforceable as of the date of registration in the same manner as an order issued by a tribunal of this state; (2) that a hearing to contest the validity or enforcement of the registered order must be requested within twenty days after notice; (3) that failure to contest the validity or enforcement of the registered order in a timely manner will result in confirmation of the order and enforcement of the order and the alleged arrearages; and (4) of the amount of any alleged arrearages. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-17-605(b).

         Here, there is no record that Julio was ever served with notice setting forth the specific UIFSA requirements pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-17-605(b). The return of service indicates that Julio was served with the following documents: (1) a summons reciting the standard thirty-day time limit for answering imposed by the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure; (2) a notice; (3) a notice of hearing; (4) the petition to register a foreign divorce decree; (5) the motion for contempt; (6) an exhibit; and (7) plaintiffs first set of interrogatories and request for production of documents propounded to defendant. In Mederios I, supra, we noted that, while the return of service represented that Julio was served with a "Notice, " no copy of this document was contained within our record. We stressed that this missing "Notice" was "essential to our determination of the issues." We ordered the parties to settle and supplement the record with the documents served on Julio when the case was first initiated. Despite our remand for supplementation, the record is still void of this missing "Notice."

         We hold that Julio was never served with the necessary notice required by Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-17-605(b). There is no evidence in the record that Julio received any notice specifying the correct time limitation or procedure by which to contest the registration under UIFSA, and Julio specifically denied receiving any such notice. Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-17-605 mandates that the nonregistering party shall be notified. Under our principles of statutory construction, "shall" is mandatory. Th ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.