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Boudette v. Boudette

Supreme Court of Montana

November 12, 2019

TAMMY MARIE BOUDETTE, n/k/a TAMMY MARIE OSKERSON, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
DANIEL BRIAN BOUDETTE, Defendant, Counter-Claimant, and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: September 4, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Broadwater, Cause No. BDV-2012-49 Honorable Michael F. McMahon, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Adam H. Owens, Gregory G. Constanza, Granite Peak Law, PLLC, Bozeman, Montana

          For Appellee: Daniel B. Boudette, Self-Represented, Townsend, Montana

          OPINION

          Beth Baker Justice.

         ¶1 Daniel Boudette, a Montana resident, and Tammy Boudette (now Tammy Oskerson) were married and divorced in Arizona. The Arizona Decree of Dissolution of Marriage ordered Daniel to pay Tammy a sum certain for her share of the parties' community proceeds. In 2012, Tammy registered the Arizona judgment in Montana under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act ("UEFJA"). In 2018, Daniel moved to extinguish the registered Arizona judgment because Arizona's statute of limitations for enforcing judgments had expired. Tammy asserted that Montana's longer statute of limitations should apply to foreign judgments filed in Montana. The District Court granted Daniel's motion to dismiss, holding that the Full Faith and Credit Clause required the court to apply Arizona law. Because Montana law allows a registered foreign judgment to be enforced just as a Montana judgment would be, we hold that the Montana statute of limitations applies. We reverse and remand for further proceedings on Tammy's enforcement of the Arizona judgment.

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Daniel and Tammy were married in Arizona in 1994. In 2005, they moved to Montana. Tammy later returned to Arizona and, in 2008, filed for dissolution of marriage. An Arizona court entered the Decree on December 18, 2009. The court held that proceeds from the sale of property in Arizona-which the parties used to purchase property in Montana-were community funds; it ordered Daniel to reimburse Tammy $68, 293.50 for her share of those proceeds. Daniel was given six months to pay Tammy or to make the necessary arrangements, after which she could seek to foreclose her community interest in the Montana property and enforce the money judgment. The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Decree, and the Arizona Supreme Court denied review. Daniel did not pay Tammy or make arrangements to do so.

         ¶3 Tammy registered the Arizona judgment on September 12, 2012, in Broadwater County, Montana, pursuant to the UEFJA. Title 25, chapter 9, part 5, MCA. She took no further steps to enforce the foreign judgment.

         ¶4 On December 13, 2018, Daniel moved to extinguish Tammy's December 2009 Arizona judgment, contending that under applicable Arizona law, the statute of limitations to enforce the judgment had expired because Tammy did not seek enforcement within five years of the 2009 Decree. Arizona law limited execution on a judgment lien to five years absent renewal of the judgment. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 12-1551 (2009). Tammy responded that Montana's ten-year statute of limitations for actions upon judgments, § 27-2-201(1), MCA, instead applied. The District Court granted Daniel's motion to extinguish on March 13, 2019. Citing its "exacting" full faith and credit obligation owed to final judgments of sister states, the court held that Arizona law applied to determine the time limit for execution on the judgment. The court held the money judgment unenforceable because more than five years had elapsed since the Decree was issued. Tammy appealed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5 The District Court concluded that Tammy's foreign judgment was unenforceable in Montana as a matter of law. We review a district court's conclusions of law to determine whether they are correct. Rose v. Rose, 2016 MT 7, ¶ 10, 382 Mont. 88, 364 P.3d 1244.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶6 Did the District Court err when it applied Arizona's statute of limitations forenforcing a judgment lien to an Arizona judgment registered in Montana under ...


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