On December 1, 2020, the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington, Division II, affirmed a Superior Court order that had the effect of refusing to recognize a Polish child support order.
David and Eva Hedges are parents to two children. The Hedges divorced in Arizona, where they resolved their dissolution by settlement agreement. They apparently re-married, and then divorced a second time, in 1998, in New York, where the NY court incorporated their Arizona settlement agreement into their NY divorce decree. The divorce decree obligated David to pay child support until the children reached the age of majority, and he continued making those payments until each child reached the age of 21 respectively. After his obligation ceased, Eva and the adult children moved to Poland. A few years later, Eva requested child support from a court in Krakow, arguing that the children were disabled. By now, the children were ages 28 and 29. The court in Krakow issued a new child support order on March 9, 2012. David apparently received no notice of the hearing, and, therefore, did not participate. On or about April 13, 2012, Eva notified David of the child support order. In May 2012, the Krakow court sent David a registered letter informing him of the child support order. On April 25, 2012, David retained a Polish lawyer and appealed. He lost on appeal in Poland.
On March 31, 2016, the Washington State Department of Child Support (its Title IV-D agency) received a request from its counterpart in Poland to enforce the Polish child support order. [As a note, the Hague Maintenance Convention went into effect in the United States on January 1, 2017]. DCS served David with a notice of support debt and registration by certified mail on August 30, 2016. David contested registration and requested a hearing. At the hearing, the ALJ concluded that despite David having no notice and opportunity to participate in the trial that rendered the child support order, he did have a lawyer and entered an appearance to appeal, so his due process rights were preserved. The Superior Court disagreed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The lack of notice was fatal to the recognition of the child support order, and to recognize it would violate public policy.