DiPasquale v. DiPasquale (2017)

In DiPasquale v. DiPasquale, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that a family law litigant may join a third-party spouse to litigate a party’s contribution to community property for purposes of enforcing a previous family law order.

When the parties divorced, Husband agreed to pay Wife spousal maintenance until Wife died or remarried. Husband stopped paying maintenance and Wife filed to enforce the decree.

During the enforcement action, the parties executed a property settlement agreement where they agreed that Husband owed $122,200 plus interest for unpaid spousal maintenance and that Husband would maintain a $250,000 life insurance policy benefit payable to Wife in exchange for the termination of ongoing maintenance. 

The life insurance benefit lapsed, so Wife filed another petition to enforce the terms of the property settlement agreement. Because Husband had remarried, Wife moved the family court to allow her to file a third-party petition to join Husband’s new spouse to enable collection remedies against Husband’s contribution of the marital community. The family court denied Wife’s motion and reasoned that this determination was not an issue for family court.

The Court of Appeals disagreed and explained that the family court statutorily possesses the authority to enforce a divorce decree against a litigant’s share of marital property.