In a previous post from March 24, 2014, I discussed the factors the courts consider in setting alimony in Utah Divorce cases. The Court considers at least the following factors:
1) the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse;
2) the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income;
3) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support;
4) the length of the marriage;
5) whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support;
6) whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse;
7) whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse’s skill
by paying for education received by the payor spouse or enabling the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage.
Utah Code Section 30-3-5 (8) (a) (i) through (vii).
The first three statutory factors listed above are also known as the Jones factors, so called because they were set forth in the well-known Utah Supreme Court alimony case of Jones v. Jones, 700 P.2d 1072, 1075 (Utah 1985).
A lengthy marriage where there is a wide disparity in the parties’ respective earning capacities may justify a longer period and/or higher amount of alimony than a marriage of relatively short duration.
In a post from May 30, 2014 I also discussed Utah’s “fault” alimony statute and the inherent difficulties of applying this well-intentioned but somewhat vague statute.
In setting alimony, Utah law generally considers the standard of living the parties enjoyed during the marriage. The general rule is that the courts consider the standard of living existing at the time of separation, but the court may in the exercise of its discretion and considering all relevant facts and equitable principles, also consider the standard of living that existed at the time of trial. Utah Code Section 30-3-5 (8) (e).
There is no set formula for alimony in Utah. But the courts may, in appropriate circumstances, attempt to equalize both parties’ respective standards of living. Utah Code Section 30-3-5 (8) (f).
In certain situations the courts may be in the impossible position of “attempting to cut one blanket to cover two beds and satisfy both parties when the truth of the matter is that they cannot afford a divorce, but must have one anyway.” See Bader v. Bader, 424 P.2d 150 (1967).
In such situations, the courts may attempt to equalize the parties’ net incomes where neither party has enough resources to meet their own needs and still assist the other party in meeting their needs. This is often referred to as “income equalization.”
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.