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An Update on Alimony–Utah Edition

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They even made a movie about it…in 1949.

This morning, as I was hunting through the divorce statute to make sure that I was remembering right about a particular provision regarding transporting children for parent time, I stumbled across something I was not looking for at all.  There is new law, as of the 2013 Utah legislative session, that addresses fault in alimony awards.

Just to recap, so you can get a feel for why this is worth mentioning (since the old law already talked about fault in alimony determinations), you might recall an old post I did on this (you can read the whole thing here.)  In the last paragraph of that old post, I noted the following:

“…you’ll note that I left out a subpart from section 8 of the alimony statute (located at U.C.A. § 30-3-5(8) ).  That would be (b).  That part of the statute says that the court may consider fault of the parties in making an alimony determination.  Through the Utah Appellate Court case Mark v. Mark, 223 P. 3d 476 (Utah App. 2009), that portion has become a nullity.  Mark says the court cannot consider fault in determining alimony, except to consider the financial position the person who was cheated on/beaten/abandoned was left in as a result of the divorce.”
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Yeah, this is called Fault…

The Mark case stated that because the legislature hadn’t properly defined what “fault” meant in that particular place in the divorce statute, that the court couldn’t consider it in making an alimony determination.  Which was utter crap, given that “fault” was defined earlier in the divorce code (…but what do I know?)  The legislature has made up for its “error” in not putting flashing lights and neon signs on what fault means in the statute, by adding a subpart (c) to the alimony portion of the code.  Fault has now been Officially Defined in a place not even the appellate court can miss.  And here’s what it says:

“(b) The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining whether to award alimony and the terms thereof.

(c) “Fault” means any of the following wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship:

(i) engaging in sexual relations with a person other than the party’s spouse;

(ii) knowingly and intentionally causing or attempting to cause physical harm to the other party or minor children;

(iii) knowingly and intentionally causing the other party or minor children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm; or

(iv) substantially undermining the financial stability of the other party or the minor children.”

So.  This is brand new stuff in divorce law in Utah.  Like I said, this comes out of the 2013 legislative session.  It has not been tested by the courts yet.  We’ll see how it all shakes out.

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Hopefully the courts can figure this out now…Because sometimes Justice is not only Blind, but also Deaf and Lobotomized.

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