Property division rules are to achieve a fair, just and equitable result and may include separate property.

February 24, 2018

Sandusky v. Sandusky, 218 UT App 34, February 24, 2018

This is a good case for the overarching principles about property division, definitions and presumptions about the division of marital and personal property, and includes exceptions that may include the division of separate property when commingled, augmented, or extraordinary circumstances.

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. . . Sandusky v. Sandusky, 218 UT App 34.  To read the entire case, CLICK HERE

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