Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Separate Property Can Become Marital Property Simply if the Other Spouse’s Contribution of Income to the Marriage

Henshaw v. Henshaw, 2012 UT App. 56, Utah Court of Appeals, February 24, 2012

Husband and Wife were divorced.  Wife was awarded half of the equity in a ranch and adjoining property that Husband inherited and paid for with inherited money.  In the time leading up to trial, Husband went through 3 attorneys and file a motion to recuse the judge in order to extend the time until trial.  The trial court found that he violated rule 11.  Husband appealed the property distribution and the Rule 11 findings.

The Court of Appeals declined to disturb the trial court’s finding that Wife contributed to the maintenance of the ranch and that Wife’s parents loaned the parties money to cover their needs and allow them to purchase the additional land and maintain the ranch.  As to the classification of the adjoining property as marital property, Husband failed to properly marshal the evidence and as such, the Court refused to overturn the trial court’s decision.  Further, because of Wife’s contribution of income and contributions to the ranch, it was not an abuse of discretion to award her 50% of the value of the premarital property.  However, the Court found that the Ranch could not be ordered sold because it was already sold.  The Court affirmed the trial court’s division of the value and remanded the issue to determine Wife’s remedy.

Further, Husband’s actions of attempting to delay the proceedings properly resulted in Rule 11 Sanctions.
Full opinion available at: http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/appopin/henshaw022412.pdf  

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