Arizona Court of Appeals
Hall v. Hall
Hall v. Hall was an unpublished memorandum decision where the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the family court’s denial of a motion to correct mistake filed two years after the family court entered its divorce decree.
The parties were married in 1996 and Wife filed for divorce in 2015. Before trial, the parties reached several agreements including one that provided that “[a]ny retirement accounts shall be split 50/50 between the parties.”
When the family court entered its decree, it ordered the parties to “receive 50% of the community portions” of the retirement accounts. Neither party appealed or immediately addressed this apparent discrepancy between the final orders and their agreement until Wife filed a motion to correct the decree more than two years later.
Wife’s motion characterized the family court’s order as a “clerical mistake” when it divided only the “community portions” as opposed to the broader language used by the parties (“any retirement accounts”). The family court denied Wife’s motion and explained that her remedy was to appeal the decree or file a motion for clarification when it was entered.
Motion to Correct Mistake
Wife filed her motion under Rule 85(A) before its latest amendment. At the time, the rule provided that “[c]lerical mistakes in judgments, orders, or other parts of the record and errors therein arising from oversight or omission may be corrected by the court at any time of its own initiative or on motion of any party.”
After the Court of Appeals defined “clerical error” and distinguished it from judicial error, it determined that Wife failed to prove either. It explained that because the family court’s order was consistent with the parties’ positions asserted throughout the litigation, including Wife’s initial petition and pretrial statement and Husband’s proposed resolution statement, the type of error Wife alleged in her motion could not be considered merely to be clerical.
It further agreed with the family court’s opinion that the proper remedy would have been to timely contest the decree when it was entered by motion or appeal. Because Wife did neither for more than two years, the Court of Appeals deemed those remedies to be waived.
To make matters worse for Wife, the Court of Appeals ordered Wife to pay the attorney’s fees Husband incurred to defend against the appeal.