Bond v. Bond, March 16, 2018
Held: Imputation of Income Proper for MS in Alimonoy Case.
Case synopsis/analysis: A 27 year marriage, and Wife had quit working several years before trial due to MS which caused stress for her at work, some mistakes at work that caused her stress, and the hope of receiving SSD. A vocational expert testified at trial that she could work with some reasonable accommodations such as smaller tasks and longer breaks, and that there were employers and jobs available. “After a four-day divorce trial, the court ordered [Husband] to pay $2,350 per month in alimony to [Wife]. As part of its alimony calculation, the trial court imputed to Wife a monthly income of $600 [for part time work of 3 hours per day, fifteen hours per week at $9.61 per hour]. Wife appeals, asserting that the trial court erred by imputing any income to her at all, and contending that the alimony award therefore should have been larger. Because the trial court’s findings regarding imputation of income were supported by competent evidence, we affirm.” Bond v. Bond, 2018 UT App 38.
Held: Jobs Available can be General, Not Specific--that jobs exist in the relevant marketplace that could theoretically meet a spouse’s employment qualifications and medical needs.
“[Wife] argues that the trial court’s findings lack support because neither Expert nor any other witness identified a specific job with a specific employer that met Expert’s criteria. This argument misperceives the specificity requirements that vocational testimony must meet. Courts may impute income “based upon employment potential and probable earnings.” Utah Code Ann. § 78B-12-203(8)(b) (emphasis added). Neither the statute nor any case law of which we are aware requires trial witnesses to identify a position with a specific employer that meets a spouse’s employment needs. A trial court may ground its imputation findings on more general evidence, including testimony that jobs exist in the relevant marketplace that could theoretically meet a spouse’s employment qualifications and medical needs. See Busche v. Busche, 2012 UT App 16, ¶ 21, 272 P.3d 748 (observing that imputation decisions “necessarily depend on whether there are jobs available in the relevant market for a person with the party’s qualifications and experience”); cf. Fish, 2010 UT App 292, ¶¶ 5, 16–17 (upholding an imputation decision where a vocational specialist testified there “were a significant number of local jobs available” for which the spouse was qualified). Here, Expert identified several categories of employment that would theoretically meet [Wife’s] medical and physical needs. Bond v. Bond, 2018 UT App 38
Sandusky v. Sandusky, 218 UT App 34, February 24, 2018
Held: Good definition of general property division rules and that the Overarching Aim of Property Division is Fairness, and Although Separate Property is Generally Awarded to the Owner Spouse, Separate Property is Not Always Beyond Reach.
“[T]he overarching aim of a property division, and of the decree of which it and the alimony award are subsidiary parts, is to achieve a fair, just, and equitable result between the parties.” Dahl v. Dahl, 2015 UT 79, ¶ 25 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-5(1) (LexisNexis Supp. 2017) (permitting courts to issue “equitable orders relating to” property in divorce cases). “Utah law presumes that property acquired during a marriage is marital property subject to equitable distribution.” Dahl, 2015 UT 79, ¶ 26. The “[M]arital property is ordinarily divided equally between the divorcing spouses . . . .” Stonehocker v. Stonehocker, 2008 UT App 11, ¶ 13, 176 P.3d 476 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). In contrast, separate property is generally composed of “premarital property, gifts, and inheritances,” and ordinarily the “spouse bringing such . . . property into the marriage may retain it in the event of a divorce.” Dahl, 2015 UT 79, ¶ 143 (omission in original) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Yet separate property “is not totally beyond a court’s reach” and may be included as part of the marital estate in three circumstances: “when separate property has been commingled; when the other spouse has augmented, maintained, or protected the separate property; and in extraordinary situations when equity so demands.” Lindsey v. Lindsey, 2017 UT App 38, ¶ 33, 392 P.3d 968 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Having set forth these guiding principles for the distribution of property upon divorce, we now address George’s specific contentions regarding the trial court’s treatment of the financial accounts, certain real property, and loans. Sandusky v. Sandusky, 218 UT App 34.
Held: Presumption on Marital Loans to Be Split Equally (case involes a prenuptial agreement, so ruling of trial court may be case specific and not for general application).
The trial court found that at the time of trial the parties possessed some assets that they had acquired after executing the Separation Agreement. These assets included $305,000 in loans that the parties made to three individuals using funds from their financial accounts. Because the loans were held at the time of trial and were not accounted for by the Separation Agreement, the court determined that “the most fair and equitable distribution, as well as the presumption under Utah law, . . . is to split them equally. . . . The court concluded that “the evidence at trial did not demonstrate that [the] loans were made from [George’s] separate property”; rather, “the loans were made from funds that were commingled and were not segregated.” The court also concluded that no evidence showed that the three indebted individuals had repaid the loans. Sandusky v. Sandusky, 2018 UT App 34