In re Marriage of Zale
In In re Marriage of Zale, 193 Ariz. 246, 972 P.2d 230 (1999), a decree of dissolution was entered containing language that departed from the language that had been drafted by plaintiff's counsel, a draft to which defendant offered no objection. Id. at 248, P4, 972 P.2d at 232.
Plaintiff argued that the trial court should consider extrinsic evidence to interpret the decree. Id. at PP 6, 7, 972 P.2d at 232. The supreme court held that "the parol evidence rule, a rule of substantive contract law, does not apply to a judgment." Id. at P15, 972 P.2d at 234.
The court explained that "it is error to conclude that the parol evidence rule applies to judgments.
A judgment is not an agreement between . . . the parties. Rather, it is an 'act of a court which fixes clearly the rights and liabilities of the respective parties to litigation and determines the controversy at hand.'" Id. at P10, 972 P.2d at 233.