If Two People Become Divorced but Only One Makes the Money for the Whole House While the Other Does Not Work, Does the Person That Doesn’t Work Get Any Money in the Divorce?

Quite often, yes, but not necessarily in every divorce.

In the jurisdiction where I practice divorce law, “[m]arital property is ordinarily all property acquired during marriage and it encompasses all of the assets of every nature possessed by the parties, whenever obtained and from whatever source derived.” Marroquin v. Marroquin, 2019 UT App 38, 440 P.3d 757, (Utah Ct.App. 2019) (citing Dunn v. Dunn, 802 P.2d 1314, 1317-18 (Utah Ct. App. 1990)); however, “[i]n Utah, marital property is ordinarily divided equally between the divorcing spouses and separate property, which may include premarital assets, inheritances, or similar assets, will be awarded to the acquiring spouse.” Olsen v. Olsen, 2007 UT App 296, ¶ 23, 169 P.3d 765 (Utah Ct.App. 2007).

This means that just because property that was acquired during the marriage was paid for with money that only one spouse earned this does not mean that who earned the money thus owns everything that money was used to purchase. Indeed, in Utah (where I practice divorce law) income earned by a spouse during a marriage from that spouse’s job is marital property itself. Thus, in a divorce, property

Alimony can be and often is awarded to an ex-spouse who did not work outside the home during the course of the marriage.

For example, in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce law (Utah), alimony can be awarded based upon certain factors. See Utah Code § 30–3–35(10):

(10)(a) The court shall consider at least the following factors in determining alimony:

(i) the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse;

(ii) the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income, including the impact of diminished workplace experience resulting from primarily caring for a child of the payor spouse;

(iii) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support;

(iv) the length of the marriage;

(v) whether the recipient spouse has custody of a minor child requiring support;

(vi) whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse; and

(vii) 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.

(b) The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining whether to award alimony and the terms of the alimony.

(c) The court may, when fault is at issue, close the proceedings and seal the court records.

(d) As a general rule, the court should look to the standard of living, existing at the time of separation, in determining alimony in accordance with Subsection (10)(a). However, the court shall consider all relevant facts and equitable principles and may, in the court’s discretion, base alimony on the standard of living that existed at the time of trial. In marriages of short duration, when no child has been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider the standard of living that existed at the time of the marriage.

(e) The court may, under appropriate circumstances, attempt to equalize the parties’ respective standards of living.

(f) When a marriage of long duration dissolves on the threshold of a major change in the income of one of the spouses due to the collective efforts of both, that change shall be considered in dividing the marital property and in determining the amount of alimony. If one spouse’s earning capacity has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of both spouses during the marriage, the court may make a compensating adjustment in dividing the marital property and awarding alimony.

(g) In determining alimony when a marriage of short duration dissolves, and no child has been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider restoring each party to the condition which existed at the time of the marriage.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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