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Family Law Update - April 2024

April 1, 2024


Taylor v. Taylor, 2022 UT 35

Supreme Court of Utah

Attorneys: Julie J. Nelson, Erin B. Hull, Martin N. Olsen, Beau J. Olsen

District Court: 3 rd District, Honorable Teresa Welch

Summary: The parties engaged in mediation and at the end decided to sign an contract to allow the

mediator to make final determinations in their case as an arbitrator. The district court held that the

arbitration was valid and upheld the award from the arbitration. The Supreme Court of Utah


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Family Law Update - April 2021

April 8, 2021

Business Division

Brown v. Brown, 2020 UT App 146

Utah Court of Appeals

Attorneys: Julie J. Nelson, Troy L. Booher, Alexandra Mareschal, Ron W. Haycock, Jr., S. Spencer Brown, Scarlet R. Smith

District Court: The Honorable Derek P. Pullan

Summary: Jerry purchased and paid off a dental practice and building by 1996. The parties were married in 1996. The parties had several children from previous marriages and one child together. They decided Yvonne would stay home with the children. Yvonne occasionally filled in at the dental office on an emergency basis. Regardless of how much she worked, the dental office paid Yvonne a monthly salary. The dental practice had separate accounts from the joint personal accounts. Jerry paid personal joint bills from the business accounts. Jerry controlled the finances very carefully, keeping details from Yvonne. Jerry remodeled the building, causing a debt that was paid from the company, diminishing how much the family received from the company. He also had a failed second office, which also diminished how much the family received from the business. Jerry paid for Yvonne’s schooling from the dental practice’s revenue. Jerry spent $200,000 to help Yvonne open three new rooms at the dental office for her new spa business. During the parties’ separation, Jerry continued to pay significant amounts to Yvonne for her spa and for bills in the hopes that they could work out their relationship. As the separation went on, he diminished these payments to nothing until the court ordered him to pay temporary support.

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Family Law Update - July 2020

July 9, 2020

Termination of Parental Rights

In the Interest of B.T.B. and B.Z.B., 2020 UT 36

Utah Supreme Court

Attorneys: Martha Pierce, LaMar J. Winward; J. Robert Latham

Juvenile Court: Fifth District, Honorable Judge Michael F. Leavitt

Summary: In a private action, a father was accused of neglecting, abandoning his children making only token efforts over five (5) years to contact them. The mother petitioned to terminate his rights. A second parent adoption was not on the table. The appellate court disagreed with previous appellate decisions that the requirement of whether a termination is strictly necessary flowed “almost automatically” from the best interest standard. The Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeals and finds that strictly necessary must be found and that it is part of the best interest analysis.

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Family Law Update - June 2020

June 1, 2020

Common Law Marriage

Volk v. Vecchi, 2020 UT App 77

Utah Court of Appeals

Attorneys: David S. Pace; Karra J. Porter; Kristen C. Kiburtz

District Court: Third District – Honorable James D. Gardner

Summary: The parties were in a relationship between 1999 and 2015. The appellate court upholds the district court in finding that there was a common law marriage. The parties lived together between 1999 and 2015 (except for one (1) year). The parties had two children together. The parties “specifically” agreed that Volk would be a stay-at-home parent. They agreed to divide responsibilities and pool their resources together. They jointly purchased four (4) properties together, as co-borrowers on the loans. They shared title and maintenance on the properties. They maintained joint checking and savings accounts, joint car loans, joint credit cards, and none of their financial lives were handled separately.

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Family Law Update - April 2020

April 30, 2020


Petrzelka v. Goodwin, 2020 UT App 34

Utah Court of Appeals

Attorneys: Ashley E. Bown; Tess A. Davis

District Court: Thomas Willmore (1st District)

Summary: The wife was 42 and the husband was 61 when they married. They lived in her house and kept their finances mostly separate during the marriage. The court was within its discretion to deny him alimony and to stop the division of her retirement account on the date of separation.

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Family Law Case Update - October 2019

October 31, 2019

Gardner v. Gardner, 2019 UT 61

Supreme Court of Utah

Attorneys: Robert W. Hughes, Julie J. Nelson, Erin B. Hull, Jill L. Coil, Luke A. Shaw, Kyle O. Maynard, David W. Read

Summary: The marriage was 22 years. The court gave wife alimony based on a reasonable need, rather than her actual need based on the standard of living. It also only gave her 10 years of alimony instead of the length of marriage. Both decisions were based on an equitable result since it found that her alleged affairs substantially contributed to the demise of the marriage. Affirmed.

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Family Law Update - March 2018

March 22, 2018

This case law update has a significant amount of information about many family law subjects such as custody, protective orders, alimony, and attorney fees.

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Family Law Update - June 2017

June 6, 2017

This case law update includes information about protective order violations, accumulated interest on premarital property, and several termination issues. Enjoy!

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Family Law Update - December 2016

December 14, 2016

The court has focused on the right to counsel in private termination cases and has also given helpful clarifications around protective orders and stalking injunctions. Enjoy!

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Is There an Easier Way?

December 9, 2016

Before I dive into my next case law summary blog, I’d like to take a step back and offer some basic advice for anyone going through a divorce or custody battle. Divorce is complicated and excruciatingly difficult, both emotionally and technically. I have done a lot of these, and there is one question that could really make things easier for so many people: “is there an easier way?” Parties to these cases could really help themselves if they started asking this question at every turn. They should ask it of themselves, of their lawyer, and of the opposing lawyer.

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Family Law Update - September 2016

September 23, 2016

This case law update has a summary of all of the family law decisions from the Utah Supreme Court and the Utah Court of Appeals since the last update. There is a particularly helpful summary on proceeds from civil litigation, whether or not they are marital or separate property, and a helpful discussion about the UCCJEA. Enjoy!

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Transgender Parents’ Rights

April 15, 2016

The ACLU and the National Center for Transgender Equality have prepared a great report that helps transgender parents and practitioners understand the rights available to these families. Handling a case of this nature often raises difficult issues. These organizations have ample experience to advise on best practices for achieving positive results for the parents and children. Access the report here:

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Family Law Update - April 2016

April 8, 2016

The case law update gives important information on relocation, custody, civil procedure, attorney fees, and retirement. Enjoy!

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Family Law Update - December 2015

December 5, 2015

This case law update includes an important Utah Supreme Court case regarding grandparents’ rights, the Court’s discretion with custody evaluator recommendations, important civil procedure pit falls, and more. Enjoy!

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Family Law Update - July 2015

July 28, 2015

The Court discusses custody and parent-time below the statutory minimums.

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Family Law Update - May 2015

May 14, 2015

This legal update provides family law case summaries from the Utah Supreme Court and the Utah Court of Appeals from the second half of 2014. In addition to an awesomely insane case involving astronomical attorney fees (Dahl), this summary breaks down the courts’ rulings on: custody, alimony, child support, child care, medical expenses, abuse and neglect, protective orders and stalking injunctions, retirement benefits, pensions, stocks, and investments, debt, paternity, termination of parental rights, real property, personal property, grandparents’ rights, contempt and orders to show cause, attorney fees, domesticating cases, intervening parties, and some fancy information about civil procedure. Enjoy!

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Family Law Update - May 2015

May 3, 2015

Here are Utah family law case summaries for April and May of 2015. Enjoy!

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