Retroactive Application of Child Support or Spousal Maintenance Modifications
It has been awhile, but I am back to writing. Today's topic centers around a question that I often receive with from clients who seek either child support or spousal maintenance modifications. That question being, if a modification is filed with the court and the child support or spousal maintenance amount is thereafter modified, when does the newly modified amount become effective?
The answer to this question is two pronged. First, the newly modified amount becomes effective on the date in which the judicial officer (Commissioner or Judge) signs the modified support or maintenance order. However, Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") ? 25-327 states in relevant part: "modifications and terminations are effective on the first day of the month following notice of the petition for modification or termination unless the court, for good cause shown, orders the change to become effective at a different date but not earlier than the date of filing the petition for modification or termination."
Therefore, it is important to understand that generally then any modified support or maintenance amount will be retroactive to the first day of the month following when the opposing party was actually served with knowledge of the action. For example, if a Petition to modify child support or spousal maintenance were filed in January 2011 and the opposing party was properly served in that same month, then although a hearing modifying the amount and subsequent order may not, for instance, be entered until several months later, that modified amount would become retroactive to the date of February 1, 2011. Meaning, that say a petitioning parties support or maintenance obligation at the time of filing in January 2011 was $500 monthly and the modified ordered entered in May 2011 was reduced to $200 monthly, the $200 figure would become retroactive to February 1, 2011. this would mean that during the pendency of the modification action, assuming the petitioning party remained current in their obligation that during the months of February, March, April and May 2011 they would have paid $2,000.00 total in support or maintenance obligations. However, since the newly modified order reduced the monthly amount to $200.00 monthly the petitioning party should have paid $800.00 during the same period of time; and thus through retroactive application of the petitioning party is entitled to a credit of $1,200.00.
For more information on this or any other Arizona family law matter contact the experienced attorneys at the law firm of Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC at 602-515-0841.