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Are out-of-state court decisions good in Utah Divorce cases?

Despite the wide range of issues that have been litigated before in state supreme courts, there are still a wide range of issues that have not been addressed for divorce lawyers. When such an issue arises in a Utah divorce, it may be useful to look at other nearby states, to see if justices have ruled on an issue similar to the one that is currently being litigated. When a favorable decision can be found, this may allow an argument to be made that a Utah judge should take into consideration what their colleagues in other states have already ruled on.

Are out-of-state court decisions good in Utah Divorce cases

A recent out-of-state decision may assist those dealing with military pension issues. The court found that a husband was not required to share the increase in his pension that he received when he changed jobs. The man, who prior to the marriage, was a member of the Air Force, was allowed to purchase credits when he became a firefighter that increased the value of his pension.

His ex-wife argued that since the man purchased the credits with joint funds that she should be entitled to a share of the increase. However, the California court disagreed. In their order, the justices stated that the woman was only entitled to fifty percent of the money that was spent to purchase the credits, which amounted to around $6,700.

Going through a contested divorce in a Utah court can be a difficult and stressful process. However, by carefully planning how the case will be litigated and by conducting the proper in and out-of-state research, an individual will be able to make the best argument possible. If properly prepared, this can result in a favorable decision being issued, which can assist both parties moving forward as they try and start their new life.

Proposals would streamline divorce procedures and cap payments

Common sense dictates that the more contested issues that there are in a divorce, the higher will be the costs for legal fees and other professionals. One study by a state commission recently found that divorces cost more, in particular, when the contestants are fighting about spousal support and alimony. In Utah, if there was more consistency in segments of the divorce process, people would be less engaged in litigating. This would bring the costs and time investment in a divorce down, or so the argument goes.

One problem revealed by the study is that judges are inconsistent from one case to another, which frustrates divorce litigants into not wanting to settle, which in turn further drives up the costs of divorce. One proposal applies a consistent formula to spousal support and alimony. This idea was implemented back in the 1980’s when all 50 states cooperated to reduce litigation by creating a basic formulaic template for child-support payments.

A bill now in front of the New York legislature would make it the first state to apply a formula to post-divorce alimony. It’s granted that such approaches won’t work for the Rupert and Wendi Murdoch divorces. However, for those more ordinary earning situations, calculations can be made that establish consistent ranges of alimony payments that are reasonably fair and justifiable.

Additionally, other rules can be applied to regulate the duration and to define the need for alimony. For example, the New York bill provides for alimony only if one of the spouses is a much higher earner. It also caps the amount so that the recipient does not end up earning more than the paying ex-spouse. Moreover, in any formulaic approach there must be an escape valve that takes into account exceptions and unusual fact situations.

One proposal for greater feasibility is to cap the maximum amounts to prevent unusually distorted or grossly unfair situations. Extremely top-heavy amounts at the high end of the scale encourage intensive litigation and are likely to be unfair in any analysis. Proposals like this for Utah and other states may in the future streamline the divorce process so that the costs can be kept within an affordable range.

Free Consultation with a Divorce Lawyer

If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506