Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Child Support: Child Support Follows the Child

Hansen v. Hansen, 2009 UT App. 152, (Utah Court of Appeals, June 11, 2009).

Trial Court denied Father's Petition to Modify Child Support. Father appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals. Father argued that his daughter was living in a transitional home supported by Volunteers of America. Since support should follow the child, he argued that both parties should pay support to VoA. The Court found that this statute only applied to when a child moves to the other parent, a relative, or the state. In this case, the child is not in the custody of the state for two reasons: (1) Volunteers of America is not run by the state, but by volunteers and (2) Mother is still responsible for the child and has retained custody. The Mother remains liable for the support of the child, including the responsibility to pay school fees, buy clothing, transport the child to the doctor and counseling appointments, attend to her medical needs and pay her medical expenses. The Child also stays frequently in the Mother's home. The Court affirmed; finding that since custody had not changed, child support should not change.

Note: Mother asked for attorney fees. However, Mother failed to set forth a specific legal basis for the award of fees. No attorney fees awarded.

Full Decision available at http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/mds/hansen061109.pdf

Alimony: Imputed Income Must Be Based on More Than Mere Conjecture

Hawks v. Hawks, 2009 UT App. 149, (Utah Court of Appeals, June 4, 2009).

Trial Court imputed Wife's income at minimum wage of part-time work. Husband appealed to the Utah Court of Appeals. The trial court must consider (1) the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse, (2) the recipient's earning capacity, and (3) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support. When considering the recipient's earning capacity, the court may impute income. However, imputed income cannot be premised upon mere conjecture, but demands a careful and precise assessment requiring detailed findings. The trial court had determined Wife's need, Husband's ability to pay and based her capacity to earn on the difference between the two. Because the trial court had failed to make adequate findings their imputation of income was reversed and the Court found that there was nothing that suggested that wife was not able to work full time at minimum wage. As such she was imputed income of minimum wage on a full time basis. The Court than deducted the added amount from the alimony award.

Full Decision available at http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/mds/hawks060409.pdf


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