Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Income to Which a Payor Spouse Would Receive But For His Bad Acts May Be Imputed To Him

Young v. Young, ---P.3d---, 2009 UT App. 3, (Utah Court of Appeals, January 2, 2009).
Darrel Edward Young (Husband) was incarcerated at the time he became eligible for social security benefits. Because of Husband’s incarceration for a felony conviction he was not permitted to receive his benefits. However, Willa Mae Young (Wife), Darrell’s ex-wife filed for increase in spousal support in Utah’s First District Court. Wife claimed that husband’s recent eligibility for benefits was a substantial change in circumstances and that the benefit amount that he would receive should be calculated as income. The trial court agreed and changed the spousal support from $50 to $600, based on the eligibility. Husband appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals.
The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's opinion. The Court found that the receipt of retirement benefits or social security can constitute a change in circumstances sufficient for a modification. Additionally, but for husband’s bad acts leading to his incarceration, he would receive the Social Security benefit. Lastly, based on the Husband’s imputed income and now the new income that he would be receiving from Social Security, his income is now 70% of the parties’ gross income and as such he was ordered to pay 70% of the combined attorney fees.

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