Monday, March 25, 2013

Court Can Base It’s Rulings on Hypotheticals; and Animal Feed is Not Included in Child Support or Alimony

Farnsworth v. Farnsworth, 2012 UT App. 282, Utah Court of Appeals, October 12, 2012

Husband and Wife were divorced.  Wife was awarded alimony based on a standard of living that would include a hypothetical $140,000 home.  The Court also awarded $200/month for the cost of animal feed for a minor daughter’s horses.  Husband appealed.

The Court of Appeals found that the relying on the $140,000 home was reasonable without any evidence to support such a number.  The court also found that the $200 for the animal costs appeared to be more related to the child’s extracurricular activity than to Wife’s standard of living.  Because it was an extracurricular expense, the Court of Appeals amended the award to deduct the cost of the animal feed.

The Court was divided on the both issues with a dissenting opinion on each.  Judge Orme dissented on the alimony award and asserted that the trial court should not have awarded alimony based on a hypothetical home.  Jude Orme accused the trial court of punishing husband for his fault for artificially lowering the parties living conditions during the marriage; and since fault cannot be used as a factor (keep in mind the new changes to U.C.A. §30-3-5, passed by legislature, not yet signed by Governor). 

Judge Thorne believed that the $200 for the feed should have been included in the alimony award because Wife’s standard of living had always included horses.    

Full opinion available at

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