ARS 25-320 Interpretation
In Mendoza v. Mendoza, 177 Ariz. 603, 605, 870 P.2d 421, 423 (1994), the Court determined 25-320 "allowed the court to order support for a disabled child to continue past the age of majority, even if the court acquired jurisdiction after the child was no longer a minor." 177 Ariz. at 605, 870 P.2d at 423.
The Court concluded this provision reflected an "intent to broaden the scope of the court's jurisdiction to order support of an adult, disabled child where the court deems it appropriate." Id.
And we determined that even if a dissolution decree was silent as to continued support after the child reached the age of majority, its silence did not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction over the matter, and the child might be entitled to continuing support based on disability. Id.
The Arizona legislature has established a statutory scheme that permits modification of a child support judgment upon a showing of substantial and continuing changed circumstances and explicitly has provided the trial courts with continuing jurisdiction to order support for an adult, disabled child, even if the claim is not brought until after the child has passed the age of majority. 25-320(E), 25-327(A); see also Gersten, 223 Ariz. 99,22-26, 219 P.3d at 316-18; Mendoza, 177 Ariz. at 605, 870 P.2d at 423. As Lethia's counsel stated during oral argument before this court:
The child support statute contemplates the issue of child support as a continuing one for as long as the child is eligible. . . . the issue of child support is not a single discrete claim subject to final . . . adjudication, . . . it is more fairly regarded as a series of claims subject to the court's ongoing jurisdiction . . . and always hinged on the best interests of the child.