June 6, 2024

Arizona appeals court throws out child support case where dad was served on Instagram

A lawyer for the father said the Arizona Court of Appeals made the right decision because he was denied fundamental due process in a case he didn’t even know of.

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A judgment against an NFL player by a judge who let the mother serve him with a child support lawsuit on social media has been thrown out.

A lawyer for Mike Pennel said the Arizona Court of Appeals made the right decision because Pennel was denied fundamental due process in a case he didn’t even know of.

Court records say the child support suit against Pennel in Maricopa County was on the verge of being thrown out of court because Pennel had not been served with the complaint. So a judge let the mother send the case to Pennel over Instagram and later ordered Pennel to pay $10,000 a month.

“One of the problems here is when you have a professional athlete, you figure how many message requests or spam message requests they get per day,” said Keith Berkshire, an attorney representing Pennel in his appeal.

Pennel is a member of the Kansas City Chiefs scheduled to make roughly $1.2 million next season.

Berkshire said Pennel does not dispute being the child's father, and he pays child support through an income withholding order sent to his employer. Berkshire also said his client may have significantly overpaid in the case.

Now, the monthly payment has to be recalculated. But Berkshire said money from Pennel for the child will continue.

"Realistically, any lawyer’s advice to their client is, ‘You’re going to pay the support we think that’s accurate,’” Berkshire said.

This story was produced by KJZZ, the public radio station in Phoenix, Arizona.
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