Thursday, August 8, 2013

Needs of Recipient Spouse is the Maximum Alimony Award.

Dobson v. Dobson, 2012 UT App. 373, Utah Court of Appeals, December 28, 2012

Wife was awarded $800/ month alimony for 20 years as well as physical and legal custody of her two children.

Wife argued that the Court should not have considered child support as income in calculating alimony.  The Court of Appeals found that is best practice to calculate child support and alimony separately.  However, combining the calculations is not an abuse of discretion, particularly when Wife included the children’s expenses in her monthly need on her financial declaration.

Wife also argued that the trial court failed to consider Husband’s increased ability to pay as his child support obligation decreases.  Wife failed to demonstrate how Husband’s increased ability to pay affects her needs.  Because as Wife’s child support will decrease so should her obligations (i.e. no longer having to pay for the adult child). There was no abuse in discretion in the court’s consideration of Wife’s decrease in need.  Further, income to wife was correctly imputed because of Wife’s advanced decree and the testimony of the employability expert.

The Court of Appeals Reversed and Remanded the alimony award to give proper consideration to the standard of living during the marriage.  The trial court reduced wife’s expenses without adequate explanation and is instructed to supply additional findings as to why it eliminated some of Wife’s claimed expenses as listed on her financial declaration.  Also remanded to correct the mathematical error in Father’s income.

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