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Family Law Archives

Holding a Person in Contempt for Violating a Utah Divorce Decree

What are your options if your ex-spouse violates the divorce decree? Perhaps she refuses to pay child support, or he is behind on his alimony payments. Or perhaps she refuses to pay the credit card debt allocated to her in the decree, or he interferes with your parent-time. If so, you have a relatively quick and effective tool to fix the problem. The Utah divorce attorneys at Snow Jensen & Reece can help you file the necessary paperwork to enforce the decree.


Curiously, in Dahl v. Dahl, 2015 WL 5098249, although the Utah Supreme Court emphasized the strong public policy in Utah to divide marital estates equitably such that a trust cannot hide assets of the marriage, the Court determined that Ms. Dahl could only withdraw from the trust those assets she contributed to the trust. Id. ¶ 34. Thus, Dr. Dahl was allowed to contribute property to the irrevocable trust that remained his separate property. True, the trial court could give all of Ms. Dahl's contributions to her to offset whatever property remained in the trust, but this ruling leaves open the door for a creative spouse to plan a divorce by placing assets in an irrevocable trust and keeping them outside the marital estate-effectively picking and choosing what assets he or she wants and possibly even obtaining the lion's share of the assets if the trust is properly done. Respectfully, the Utah Supreme Court ignores the reality that any asset created during the marriage is created through the labor and effort of both parties even though one party alone may physically create the asset or the asset is titled in only one party's name. Dr. Dahl was able to work and create property because Ms. Dahl stayed home and reared their two children. Assets that he created through marital labor should be considered marital assets and even though he may separately contribute them to the trust, the contribution should be considered a marital contribution making both parties settlors to the trust with both having full ownership and rights as settlors. The case is good because it states Utah's public policy with regard to marital division and even overrides express choice of law language in the irrevocable trust drafted under Nevada law, and it applies Utah law making the trust revocable. But the determination that effectively one spouse can secret assets into an irrevocable trust following a lengthy marriage is fodder for mischief. Hopefully, the Court corrects this before it makes the opinion final and subject to formal publication.

Utah Qualified Domestic Relations Orders - Never Make These Three Mistakes

Under Utah law, spouses in a divorce case are entitled to one-half of any retirement funds that have accrued during the marriage. This includes 401Ks, IRAs, annuities, and the like. But unlike other divisions of marital property, this one is not achieved by the Utah divorce decree itself-it must be carried out by a separate court order called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO.

New Utah Law Expands Parent-Time Schedule

Several states are taking note of new legislation affecting family law, which offers an expanded parent- time schedule in favor of the non-custodial parent when the parents of minor children are involved in a divorce. The new law was sponsored in this year's legislative session by our very own Representative Lowry Snow. HB35 which has now been signed into law increases the minimum time children will spend with their non-custodial parent from 110 days to 145 days, a number that splits the time more evenly between both parents. This bill gives children more access to their non-custodial parent, a great benefit as indicated by research showing that children lead happier and healthier lives if both of their parents are actively involved with them. Because the minimum schedule of 110 days was becoming more of the standard than a minimum, advocates from the Family Section of the Utah State Bar and the National Parents Organization had been pushing for this change to the law. You can read more about this legislation in a recent Spectrum article here: