Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Busche v. Busche, 2012 UT App 16, January 20, 2012

Parties divorced in January 2005.  Husband Petitioned to Modify the Decree because he had been fired from his employment.  At the time of trial on the modification, Husband was employed but at earning less.  The trial court found that because Husband was fired, that he was voluntarily underemployed.  The trial court also awarded Wife attorney fees.  Husband appealed.

The Court of Appeals found that evidence because a party was fired is insufficient to prove underemployment.  The Court is required to not only review the circumstances of a party’s loss of employment, but also their conduct after the end of the employment.  See U.C.A. § 78B-12-203 (7)(b) for imputation factors.  Because the trial court did not consider the imputation factors, the matter is Reversed and Remanded for further findings by the district court.  Court of Appeals noted later in the decision that in order to include income above regular employment, the income must be regular and consistent.

As to attorney fees, the Court found that the fees awarded for Wife’s substantially prevailing in an Order to Show Cause hearing was appropriate.  The trial court also awarded Wife attorney fees for the remainder of the case but reduced the amount.  However, the trial court made only cursory findings as to the reasonableness of the fees.  Court of Appeals Reversed and Remanded the award of fees and instructed the trial court make detailed findings to support the award of fees.
In a Protective Supervision Case, Court Not Required to Provide Strict Procedural Due Process
K.D. v. State, In Re C.F., 2012 UT App 10, January 12, 2012

Children were removed by DCFS.  Legal and physical custody were later returned to Father.  The Juvenile Court retained Protective Supervision (PSS) case with the family.  While the PSS case continued, the children were exposed to a domestic violence incident involving Father and Mother.  Based on that incident, the court removed the children and set a hearing on Father’s motion for reunification services.  The juvenile court indicated no other purpose beyond addressing Father’s motion.  At that hearing, the Juvenile Court denied reunification services and at trial, terminated Father’s parental rights.  Father appealed.

The Court of Appeals found that because the court’s jurisdiction had not ended and had not modified the finding of neglect, Father was not entitled to a specific hearing on the permanency goal.  Father had a permanency hearing prior to custody being returned.  The hearing on Father’s motion fulfilled all statutory due process requirements because Father was able to present evidence and challenge the State’s allegations.  Further, because the Court maintained jurisdiction, Father was on notice that the goal for the children and custody of the children could be modified by court without further notice.  Affirmed.

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