Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Divorce: Separate Property Remains Separate in the Absence of Enhancement

Soderborg v. Soderborg, 2009 UT App. 359, (Utah Court of Appeals, December 3, 2009).

Husband inherited two properties. When received, they were in poor shape and husband worked several years to make them profitable. After they became so, Husband spent a large amount of time managing the properties. Upon divorce, the Court awarded the properties to husband. Wife Appeals.

Wife argues that Husband’s labor spent in making the properties profitable and in managing the properties was a marital asset and as such, the marital estate is entitled to reimbursement of the work or, in the alternative, an interest in the properties. The Court of Appeals disagreed with Wife and affirmed the trial court finding that Husband inherited the properties. As an inheritance, it overcomes the presumption that it is marital property and remains separate. Wife makes no argument that she enhanced, maintained, or protected the property as such, the Court ordered it remain separate. The Court found that wife had no claim for husband’s labor and time spent on the properties.

Additionally, Wife argued that she was entitled to alimony. However, the Court again disagreed and affirmed, finding that while Wife physician may not have formerly released her to work, she provided no evidence that she had requested such a release because she of that her ability to work was not adequately shown to be impaired.

Full Decision available http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/mds/soderborg120309.pdf

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