Modifying an out of state child support order.

Our client was married in Puerto Rico in 1975 and had two children. Shortly after the second child was born, the parties were divorced in Puerto Rico. The father was ordered to pay $1,300 per month in combined spousal and child support. He made some sporadic payments.

In 1984, the father entered medical school in New York and while there, petitioned that court to reduce his child support obligation, which the court did to $430 per month. He made some payments to our client.

The Court of Appeals found the following facts:

In 1990, the father to Ohio, and our client filed a petition in the Summit County Juvenile Court under R.C. Chapter 3115, Ohio's Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act ("URESA"). Pursuant to our client’s URESA petition, the juvenile court temporarily set child support at $1,000 per month effective September 1, 1992 and specifically stated that issues of past and current child support would be postponed until a later date. Once again, the father made some payments directly to our client.

In 1996, our client filed a motion with the Domestic Relations Division of the Summit County Court of Common Pleas requesting, in part, a judgment for support arrearages and interest based on the Puerto Rican support order. In response, the father filed a motion for enforcement of the New York USDL support order. The trial court eventually determined that the New York USDL support order modified the Puerto Rican support order. As such, the trial court calculated the support arrearage based primarily on the New York USDL support order and awarded our client a judgment for past-due child support in the sum of $4,416. Our client timely appealed to this Court.

What we argued.

On behalf of our client, we argued that neither New York nor Ohio had the authority to modify the original order from Puerto Rico, and that the arrearages had to be calculated based upon the original order of $1,300 per month.

The Court of Appeals agreed with us and reversed the trial court. This resulted in a determination that the actual arrearages were $142,716, plus interest.