Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Smith v. Deleon

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

September 5, 2017

NATASHA SMITH, Respondent,
v.
JOSE DELEON, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Honorable Douglas Beach

          ROY L. RICHTER, JUDGE

         Jose DeLeon ("Husband") appeals from the trial court's judgment granting Natasha Smith's ("Wife") Motion for Entry of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order ("Motion for QDRO") in the amount of $1, 437, 077.37. We reverse and remand.

         I. Background

         On February 14, 1985, Husband and Wife were married in the Dominican Republic, where both were born citizens. Two children were born of the marriage.

         Husband and Wife lived in a rented apartment in St. Louis County, Missouri, from March 10, 1988, until October 23, 1988, while Husband worked in St. Louis, but the parties returned to their Dominican Republic apartment in October 1988. The parties did not retain their apartment in St. Louis County or any other residence in Missouri.

         On January 3, 1989, Husband and Wife separated and Husband commenced a divorce action in the Dominican Republic. A divorce decree ("1989 Decree") dissolving the parties' marriage was entered on July 20, 1989, by the Civil Chamber of Commerce and Labor of the Court of First Instance of the Judicial District of La Vega. The decree awarded Wife custody and guardianship of the parties' two children.

         On May 4, 1989, in between the parties' separation and the entry of the 1989 Decree, Wife returned to Missouri and on June 16, 1989, filed for legal separation. Wife then filed an amended petition requesting dissolution of marriage on August 22, 1989, arguing that Husband's divorce decree in the Dominican Republic was procured by fraud. Wife's amended petition was denied following an appeal, and the parties appealed the divorce decree in the Dominican Republic in February 1992. The parties agreed to a new divorce agreement ("1992 Agreement"), which was registered with the clerk of court in the Dominican Republic. Terms of the 1992 Agreement included: (1) "The marriage was dissolved by Judgment No. 1277, dated July 20th of the year nineteen hundred and eighty nine (1989) . . .;" (2) The parties "formally and expressly desist to all legal proceedings in all National Court as well as courts in the United States of America;" (3) Husband will pay child support of $5, 000 per month; (4) Wife will not file or pursue any new cause of action arising out the parties' marriage, except for a cause of action to enforce this agreement if necessary. The 1992 Agreement was certified and registered by the Clerk of the Court of Appeals of the Judicial Department of La Vega, but did not include a judge's name or signature.

         In February 1995, Husband stopped paying Wife support, and Wife filed for registration of the 1992 Agreement in St. Louis County Circuit Court on October 17, 1996. Wife attempted to notify Husband of the registration of foreign judgment by requesting the circuit clerk mail notice to two addresses: "Jose DeLeon, County of La Vega, Dominican Republic" and "Jose Deleon (sic) Chestaro, c/o Tony Chricosta, 4133 Cedar Creek Rd., Boca Raton, FL 33487." The notice mailed to Husband's agent, Tony Chricosta ("Agent"), was returned to the circuit clerk as undeliverable. The record contains no indication that the notice sent to Husband's incomplete address was ever received.

         Wife moved to Virginia in or around 2000 where she attempted to collect child support from Husband through the Department of Social Services, and a withholding order was sent to Husband's employer. While maintaining residency in Virginia, Wife again attempted to collect child support in Virginia circuit court in 2003 and 2009. The Virginia circuit court entered a QDRO and corrective QDRO in 2003 and 2009 allowing Wife to collect unpaid child support payments from Husband's pension payments made by his employer; however, Husband's employer refused to honor the withholding order or either Virginia QDRO. Wife has maintained residence in Virginia through the time of this appeal, and Husband has resided in the Dominican Republic since his retirement in or around 1996.

         On November 15, 2012, Wife file her Motion for QDRO in the St. Louis County Circuit Court. Husband's motion to dismiss for lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction was granted by the Family Court Commissioner. Upon rehearing of the commissioner's judgment and trial, the St. Louis County Circuit Court reversed the dismissal of Wife's Motion for QDRO and entered judgment granting Wife's Motion for QDRO in the amount of $1, 430, 077.39, reflecting the amount of money unpaid by Husband in child support and related interest. This appeal follows.

         II. Discussion

         Husband raises seven points on appeal. First, Husband claims that the trial court erred in finding that it had personal and subject matter jurisdiction to grant Wife's Motion for QDRO based upon the registration of the 1992 Agreement from the Dominican Republic, which contains an agreement between the parties to "formally and expressly desist to all legal proceedings in . . . courts in the United States of America."

         Second, Husband argues that the trial court erred in granting Wife's Motion for QDRO because the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction in that the Virginia court retained jurisdiction of the parties under the QDRO entered there in 2003. Further, Husband contends that any attempt ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.