Costaras v. Costaras – 5/10/2022

June 1, 2022

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that in a multi-part foreign judgment, Arizona’s statute of limitations to enforce foreign judgments applies to the portions of judgment that are not for support, even if other portions are exempt.

Former spouses divorced in Ohio, and an Ohio court entered judgement in favor of the ex-wife in 2016, ordering the ex-husband to pay spousal support, an amount for civil judgment, and costs and attorneys’ fees.

Approximately five years later, in 2021, the ex-husband relocated to Arizona.  The ex-wife then filed to domesticate the Ohio judgment in Arizona and garnish the ex-husband’s wages.  The ex-husband sought to set aside seventy percent of the judgment—the non-support award—arguing that it was unenforceable because it was time-barred by Arizona law. 

A foreign judgment is enforceable in Arizona courts only if domesticated here within the four-year statute of limitations to enforce foreign judgments.  But a foreign judgment “for support” (e.g., spousal support) is exempt from this deadline.  The superior court treated the entire judgment as a single judgment and held that the entire judgment was not time-barred because it included support elements. 

The Court of Appeals reversed.  The appellate court agreed that the portions of the judgment for support were exempt from the statute of limitations.  But the appellate court held that the non-support portions did not qualify for the exemption.    

Judge David D. Weinzweig authored the opinion of the Court, joined by Judges Furuya and Perkins.