Thursday, November 4, 2010

Alimony Must be Based on Sufficient Findings and Alimony Cannot Exceed Needs

Fish v. Fish, 2010 UT App. 292, (Utah Court of Appeals October 21, 2010).

Wife was awarded $800 per month in alimony.  Husband appealed.  He argued that the trial court had insufficient evidence to make findings as to the parties’ ability to earn and their needs.  The Court of Appeals found that testimony alone is sufficient evidence for imputation of income, and that Husband’s enrollment in a Technical College did not preclude imputation of income.  If a party already has basic job skills, he cannot rely on the schooling to avoid the imputation of income.  However, the findings of the trial court did not support the level of income imputed to husband as required by U.C.A. 78B-12-203(7)(b) (2008).  Without such findings, the trial court cannot impute income.  Additionally, the trial court made no findings as to Husband’s ability to pay and therefore the alimony award was an abuse of discretion and reversed.  The Court also found ability to earn cannot be based on monthly income alone, but must be based on the U.C.A. 78B-12-203(7)(b) factors, reversing the trial court’s finding that wife’s ability to earn directly correlates with her current income. 

Lastly, simply because the parties combined needs exceed their combined incomes does not prove that the parties’ standard of living is not commensurate with the standard of living at the time of the marriage, it simply proves that the cost to sustain two households is greater than the cost to sustain one.

1 comment:

Scott Wiser said...

I particular like how the Court of Appeals basically summed up the entire law of alimony in this opinion. Like Connell, I'll be citing this one liberally going forward.


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