The Primary Function of Alimony
The primary function of alimony (also known as spousal support) in Utah is economic. Yet guidance on how to calculate alimony remains illusive. This is in stark contrast to the voluminous statutory guidance and case law governing child support. Indeed, there is no alimony calculator like there is a child support calculator, nor is there any formula to guide a calculation. As such, asking for and getting alimony can be tricky and, ironically, expensive.
Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-5(8)(a) (i)-(vi) lists seven (7) factors the court shall consider “at least,” in determining alimony. These factors are known as the "Jones" factors because they were first identified in the seminal case of Jones v. Jones:
Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-5 (8)(b) provides that the court "may consider fault of the parties in determining whether to award alimony and the terms thereof.
"Fault," as defined by the statute, means wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship, including (1) engaging in sexual relations with a person other than that party's spouse; (2) knowingly or intentionally causing or attempting to cause physical harm to the other party or minor children; (3) knowingly and intentionally causing the other party or minor children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm; or (4) substantially undermining the financial stability of the other party or the minor children.
That said, historically, in Utah alimony does not operate as a penalty against one nor as a reward to the other. The purpose of alimony is to allow the recipient spouse to maintain his or her same standard of living (or as close to that as possible) that was established during the marriage. The central analysis surrounding alimony will likely continue to be economic factors vis-a-vis the Jones factors.
Utah courts retain continuing jurisdiction to “make subsequent changes or new orders” regarding alimony. Furthermore, alimony is subject to termination if either party dies, if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabits with another in a marriage-like relationship. If you learn your ex-spouse is cohabiting with another, terminating alimony is not automatic. You must have the matter legally determined in court.
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