Arizona attorneys can now return to advising clients that spousal maintenance which the parties agree is “non-modifiable” truly is non-modifiable.
From April 2006 until December 3, 2007, Arizona family law attorneys were placed in the unenviable position of telling clients that their non-modifiable spousal maintenance provisions might actually be modifiable, contrary to the intention of the parties and contrary to the provisions of ARS 25-319C. That uncomfortable period was created by the Court of Appeals’ decision in Waldren in 2006 which held that Husband (the spousal maintenance payor) was entitled to an evidentiary hearing to determine if, pursuant to Rule 60(c)(5), he was entitled to prospective “extraordinary relief” from the judgment which ordered him to pay maintenance.
The Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals’ decision. It held that Rule 60(c)(5)’s provision permitting a court to exercise equitable relief “must yield to statutory provisions on substantive matters such as the court’s subject matter jurisdiction”. Once the statutory conditions making a maintenance provision non-modifiable have been met (pursuant to ARS 25-319C), the court is divested of jurisdiction to revisit the modification of maintenance under Rule 60(c).
Waldren Supreme Court Decision Download WaldrenSupreme.pdf