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Category: Prenuptial Agreements

I Can Prepare a Prenuptial Agreement for You, but With Rare, Particular Exception, I Advise Against It.

Most attorney websites that contain “articles” on prenuptial agreements aren’t really articles but thinly veiled sales pitches for prenuptial agreements. This post is not one of those.

I have always believed and still believe that prenuptial agreements breed distrust, disloyalty, and defeatism in marriage for young people who contemplate marriage for the first time. That stated, at this point in my career as a divorce attorney (27 years), I struggle more than ever over the value and appropriateness of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Why?

One reason: if you trust the legal system to do right by you and your family, your trust is misplaced. So very many family law attorneys are profiteers. Courts are understaffed, judges and commissioners get jaded, expedience too often substitutes for evidence. I cannot put it more clearly and concisely than this: “Extricate yourself from the system, don’t try to vindicate yourself within it” (Peretz Partensky). A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may (may) have value if it keeps the control of your divorce in your and your spouse’s hands instead of in the hands of a court.

Another reason: divorce laws and their application are unfair to men. Now, certainly there is plenty of unfairness to go around in the court’s treatment of women too, men generally get treated worse. Permit me to explain my perspective.

Men still generally have greater incomes and greater wealth than women generally. In no-fault divorces, men generally get soaked far more often than women. There are good men out there who married in the utmost good faith whose wives did more than simply use them up and cast them aside by divorcing them; they essentially enslaved their husbands for the rest of their good years (and into their not so good years) by stripping them of at least half of all they had, driving their husbands into debt, and burdening them with oftentimes ludicrous child support and alimony obligations. Because the law permits it.  A YouTuber named Pearl (https://www.youtube.com/@JustPearlyThings) and her guests discuss this at length. As a result of the sheer volume of discussion alone, they do a good job of examining the problem. Although her content is principally light and entertaining, the reality and the cognitive dissonance underlying her content is compelling.

The solution to the misery of divorce does not lie, however, in “making divorce laws fairer.”

Ensuring fairness and equity in divorce is important, no question, but the “divorce problem” is much greater than a legal problem and its solution does not even begin to lie in merely changing laws or enforcing them better. Obviously, divorce needs to exist to remedy serious threats and injustices that cannot be remedied any other way. But divorce is far too easy now, and marriage is criminally undervalued. It’s destroying our culture.

This may seem odd coming from a divorce attorney, but I believe to my core in marriage and family. We all need to devote ourselves to fostering and preserving and improving marriage and family life as the greatest source and protector of personal and societal purpose, peace and prosperity. There are causes bigger than ourselves and that are worthy of our sacrifices to see them succeed. Marriage and family are two of them. We are better individually by being loving and devoted members of a nuclear family. Even Kramden (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Honeymooners)- or Bickersons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bickersons )-style marriage and family life is far better than a world littered with broken marriages and families, self-absorption, and loneliness. Children need and deserve (it is their right!) to be reared in a nuclear family by a loving mother and father.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Are couples with prenups more likely to divorce?

Research is hard to come by. Reliable research even harder. But here is what I could find in short order (how accurate it is I cannot say):

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-23543-004

Maybruch, C., Weissman, S., & Pirutinsky, S. (2017). Marital outcomes and consideration of divorce among Orthodox Jews after signing a religious prenuptial agreement to facilitate future divorce. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 58(4), 276–287. https://doi.org/10.1080/10502556.2017.1301152

Abstract

This study examined marital satisfaction, marital adjustment, and consideration of divorce among Orthodox Jews in North America (N = 2,652). These marital outcomes were compared for individuals who signed or did not sign a religious prenuptial agreement that facilitates a woman’s future ability to receive a religious divorce from her husband. Results indicated a higher level of marital satisfaction among those who signed the religious prenuptial agreement, and no significant difference in marital adjustment or tendency to consider divorce between groups of individuals who signed or did not sign the religious prenuptial agreement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/olin_center/papers/pdf/436.pdf

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2003/10/for-many-prenups-seem-to-predict-doom/

This paper did not address the question of whether prenuptial agreements lead to divorce, but, among the other subject it touches, “discusses two major explanations for the paucity of prenuptial agreements: underestimation of the value of prenuptial agreements, especially due to false optimism that marriages will last; and a belief that discussing prenuptial agreements would signal uncertainty about marriage.”

In the event of divorce – statistically, the reality for nearly half the marriages in America – a prenuptial agreement has the potential to save the divorcing couple anguish, arguments, and thousands of dollars. It may represent an exit agreement far closer to their wishes than the court-ordered divorce. A good prenuptial agreement can even exert a positive force on a healthy marriage.

https://sccur.csuci.edu/abstract/viewabstract/fear-and-loathing-in-marriage-the-psychological-and-financial-destruction-caused-by-prenuptial-.htm

Fear and Loathing in Marriage: The Psychological and Financial Destruction Caused by Prenuptial Author: Anne Cominsky Mentor: Kurt Meyer, Professor of English, Irvine Valley College Historically, prenuptial agreements as a condition of saying “I do” were sought out by the economically stronger partner as financial protection from divorce. Currently, legal experts and financial advisors agree the general use of prenuptial agreements is on the rise. A random poll suggests that over half of the general public view prenuptial agreements favorably.

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/03/21/the-power-of-the-prenup/if-you-want-a-prenup-you-dont-want-marriage

If You Want a Prenup, You Don’t Want Marriage

If you’re thinking about a prenup, or — worse yet — your intended is pushing a prenup on you, you might as well go ahead and just cancel the wedding. There’s an easier way to keep your assets and income separate: it’s called cohabitation. In most states, cohabiting partners are free to walk away from their relationship with their income and assets intact, all without the hassle and expense of a divorce. There’s an easier way to keep your assets and income separate: it’s called cohabitation. But if you’re truly in love, and you wish to share your life, your body, your children and your checkbook with your beloved “till death do you part,” marriage is generally the ticket. Marriage is about establishing a common life together, about putting someone else ahead of yourself, and sharing the things that mean the most to you, including your money. And, paradoxically, if you take this other-centered approach to marriage, you’re not only less likely to divorce, but also to enjoy a happier relationship. My research suggests that couples who embrace a generous orientation toward their marriage, as well as those who take a dim view of divorce, are significantly more likely to be happy in their marriages. A National Center for Family and Marriage Research study finds that couples who share joint bank accounts are less likely to get divorced. In fact, married couples who do not pool their income are 145 percent more likely to end up in divorce court, compared to couples who share a bank account. So, the kind of partners who wish to hold something back from their spouse in a marriage — emotionally, practically and financially — and to look out for No. 1 instead are more likely to end up unhappy and divorced. If that is your aim in marrying, go ahead and get a prenup. But if you wish to experience the best that marriage has to offer, find a partner who is willing to give everything to you, and do the same for them. Your odds of finding wedded bliss will be higher than your peers with prenups. Join Opinion on Facebook and follow updates on twitter.com/roomfordebate .

https://www.divorcenet.com/states/nationwide/five_realities_about_prenuptial_agreements

5 Prenuptial Pitfalls to Consider — Having One May be Bad for Your Marriage | DivorceNet

For what it’s worth, now that you have some research data: in the course of my cursory research I noticed a distinct bias in the articles that claim that prenuptial and postnuptial agreements do not encourage divorce/discourage marriage. I believe that any intellectually honest person would conclude that for the vast majority of young, unmarried people contemplating marriage for the first time and who aren’t celebrities, or rich or in some other exceptional category contemplating marriage, a prenuptial agreement raises red flags and tends to raise doubts as to the other party’s commitment to marriage.

Pro-prenuptial agreement articles gloss over the red flags. They claim prenuptial agreements “”clear the air, “help break the ice about discussing finances”, and “reduce acrimonious litigation in the event of divorce” rather transparently strain credulity to make those arguments stick.

(48) Eric Johnson’s answer to Are couples with prenups more likely to divorce? – Quora

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Do you have a desire to get married or remarried some day?

No matter how hard people try to argue against remarriage (or marriage, for that matter), for all but a very, very few of us the arguments aren’t true. Going through life alone is miserable.

If people didn’t care so much about how devastating a failed relationship was, they wouldn’t talk about it nearly as much as they do.

Everyone knows, deep down, that life is not lived to its fullest without marriage and family. Life’s purposes are not fully met without being a part of a marriage and family. Loving and caring marriage and family, of course (few people will argue that marriage is some kind of duty, regardless of just how dysfunctional or neglectful or abusive it is—there is a reason why we have divorce, after all).

Most people on this thread have acknowledged in one way or another that it’s in our nature to want one companionship of the opposite sex and to raise children together. “Neither is the man without the woman or the woman without the man.” (1 Corinthians 11).

People who have been burned by relationships many times, who were cheated on repeatedly and/or suffered abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse need to know marriage and family are too important to avoid and give up out of fear of being hurt. A life well lived is not without its risks and it’s struggles. Alive will lived is one that confronts and deals with it’s struggles nobly. A good marriage can’t exist without saying “I do” first. It’s worth that leap of faith.

That’s stated, any endeavor as important as marriage cannot be entered into lightly. Not only must you be careful in your choice of spouse, but you must be good spouse material yourself. A husband and wife need to recognize that a marriage is bigger than themselves individually. It may seem like a paradox, but focusing on the good of one’s spouse and family (not pathologically, and not at the expense of your own real needs, of course) is what makes us happiest in a marriage and family.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Would You Say Before Marriage Always Sign a Prenuptial Agreement, or Would You Never Agree to Signing One? Why?

My opinions on prenuptial agreements have changed over the course of my career as a divorce and family lawyer over the past 26 years.

Had you asked me whether I was an advocate for prenuptial agreements at the beginning of my career, I would have told you that, with the exception of divorces who are remarrying, exceptionally wealthy people, widows and widowers, I was against the notion of young couples with their whole lives ahead of them signing prenuptial agreements.

I have married once and only once. I have never divorced. God willing, I will never have need to divorce. My greatest joys in my life have unquestionably come from being a husband and father. I will literally be eternally grateful to my parents who stayed married and did their best to be the loving, sacrificing, dedicated spouses and parents they were. Truer words were never spoken than “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” (David O. McKay) The best thing that can happen to a child is being reared in a nuclear family. Critics of the nuclear family who cite the horrors of dysfunctional families cannot be taken seriously. For every dysfunctional family, there are thousands of successful families, and it’s the overwhelming desire of people to have two loving parents and siblings and to have a family of one’s own.

My thinking when I was a younger attorney was that having an exit strategy for a marriage that hasn’t even occurred yet (in the form of a prenuptial agreement) is a terrible way to instill any hope and confidence in that marriage. I still feel this way, but my views on the potential benefits of a prenuptial agreement have changed recently.

I am still opposed to prenuptial agreements that make it easier for a couple to fall apart instead of pulling together when the going gets tough. No marriage will be free of challenges and heartbreaks. Any fool who expects perfection of his or her spouse is guaranteed to be disillusioned and disappointed. Marriages succeed and grow strong only when spouses overcome (sometimes the best they can do is adapt to) failure and weakness. Couples who sign a prenuptial agreement believing that it will spare them from risk and pain and loss are naïve.

Yet I wonder whether there may still be some value in prenuptial agreements for young people who are marrying for the first time. And what might that value be? Avoiding, or at least reducing one’s interaction with, the train wreck that is the legal profession and the legal system.

As I indicated above, prenuptial agreements should not make marriages any harder by making divorce too easy.

But the legal system and the legal profession have made getting a divorce, when a divorce needed or perhaps even warranted, far too expensive, time-consuming, and unjust. Too many divorce lawyers (the majority, in my experience) view a successful divorce through the lens of “Just how much can we get away with?” Too many judges and other judicial officers approach divorce cases with bias, cynicism, apathy, and indifference (so it’s no wonder when the decree of divorce fails one or both parties and/or their children).

A prenuptial agreement that provides that the couple will, in the unfortunate event of divorce, abide by an ethic of reciprocity (i.e., do as you would be done by), do their best to avoid unnecessary litigation, and perhaps even agree to submit to arbitration (as opposed to court) any divorce disputes that they cannot resolve through agreement, may be one of the kindest things to spouses could do for one another.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

Eric Johnson’s answer to Would you say before marriage always sign a prenup, or would you never agree to signing one? Why? – Quora

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Can a Prenuptial Agreement Be Legally Binding if It’s Signed After the Marriage and Before the Divorce?

I will answer this question in the context of Utah law because I practice law in Utah.

The term “prenuptial agreement” means “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” (See Utah Code § 30-8-2. Definitions)

Dictionaries define, correctly, a prenuptial agreement as an agreement a couple makes before they marry that establishes rights to property and support in the event of divorce (or death).

“Prenuptial” means before (pre) marriage (nuptial). So, a prenuptial agreement cannot be created after marriage. But there is also such a thing as a postnuptial agreement, meaning an agreement that a married couple makes after marriage that establishes rights to property and support in the event of divorce (or death). As long as the postnuptial agreement meets the legal requirements for enforceability, a married couple can enter into a postnuptial agreement in Utah.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

Eric Johnson’s answer to Can a prenup be legally binding if it’s signed after the marriage and before the divorce? – Quora

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Why Don’t All Divorced Wives Get Half of Their Husbands’ Property?

Because divorce is not about a spouse (man or woman) getting “half of everything”.

Depending upon whether a state is a “community property” state or an “equitable distribution” state, here is how property is divided between spouses in a divorce:

A community-property state is state in which spouses hold property that is acquired during marriage (other than property acquired by one spouse by inheritance, devise, or gift) as community property. Otherwise stated, all property that is acquired during the marriage by either spouse (other than property acquired by one spouse by inheritance, devise, or gift) or by both spouses together is jointly and equally owned and will be presumed to be divided in divorce equally between the divorcing spouses. Nine states are community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

An equitable distribution state seeks to divide property in divorce in a fair, but not necessarily equal, manner. An equitable property state court can divide property between the spouses regardless of who holds title to the property. The courts consider many factors in awarding property, including (but not limited to) a spouse’s monetary contributions, nonmonetary assistance to a spouse’s career or earning potential, the efforts of each spouse during the marriage, the length of the marriage, whether the property was acquired before or after marriage, and whether the property acquired by one spouse by inheritance, devise, or gift. The court may take into account the relative earning capacity of the spouses and the fault of either spouse (See Black’s Law Dictionary, 11th ed.). Equitable distribution is applied in the non-community property states.

So, does a spouse “get half of everything” in divorce? Possibly, but not always, and now you know why.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

Why don’t all divorced wives get half of their husbands’ property? – Husbands and wives – Quora

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Oldroyd v. Oldroyd – 2022 UT App 145 – Premarital Property

2022 UT App 145

THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS

ROBBEN ANN OLDROYD,

Appellant,

v.

FARRELL LYNN OLDROYD, Appellee.

Opinion

No. 20210073-CA

Filed December 22, 2022

Second District Court, Morgan Department

The Honorable Noel S. Hyde No. 134500028

Brent D. Wride, Attorney for Appellant

Brian E. Arnold and Lauren Schultz, Attorneys for Appellee

JUDGE MICHELE M. CHRISTIANSEN FORSTER authored this Opinion, in which JUDGES GREGORY K. ORME and DAVID N. MORTENSEN concurred.

CHRISTIANSEN FORSTER, Judge:

¶1 Prior to their marriage, Robben Ann Oldroyd (Ann) and Farrell Lynn Oldroyd (Farrell) built a home on property owned by Ann. Ann paid for the materials and contractors used in the construction of the home, and Farrell contributed his skills and labor to build the specialty log home. When the parties divorced many years later, a dispute arose regarding their relative interests in the home. This is the third time questions relating to their dispute have come before this court. In the current appeal, we are asked to consider whether the district court erred in awarding Farrell a share of Ann’s premarital equity in the home based on its application of the contribution and extraordinary situation exceptions to the separate-property presumption. We conclude that the contribution exception does not apply to premarital contributions and that the extraordinary situation exception does not apply because Farrell had other means of protecting his alleged interest in the home. Accordingly, we reverse the district court’s ruling and remand with instructions for the court to award the disputed equity to Ann.

BACKGROUND

¶2      This is the third time this matter has come before this court. See Oldroyd v. Oldroyd (Oldroyd I), 2017 UT App 45, 397 P.3d 645; Oldroyd v. Oldroyd (Oldroyd II), 2019 UT App 155, 474 P.3d 467. Each appeal has concerned the parties’ home. Ann purchased the land on which the home was built before the parties were married. Oldroyd I, 2017 UT App 45, ¶ 2. While Ann and Farrell were dating, Ann arranged to have the home built. Id. Ann paid for the costs of materials and construction, but Farrell contributed “supervision, labor, work, expertise, and conceptual direction” for the construction. Id. ¶¶ 2, 4 (quotation simplified). Subsequently, the parties married and lived together in the home, but the land and home remained in Ann’s name alone. Id. ¶ 2.

¶3 While both parties agree that Ann should receive a credit for what she spent on the land on which the home was built, the parties disagree about how the remaining equity in the home should be distributed. Farrell argues that all remaining equity should be shared equally between the parties. Ann, on the other hand, maintains that she should receive a credit for both the amount she spent on the land and the amount she spent on construction costs before the parties divide the remaining equity.[1]

¶4 In its original findings of fact and conclusions of law in the parties’ divorce, the district court found that Farrell’s nonmonetary contributions were “roughly equal” to Ann’s financial contributions and that he had therefore acquired “a separate premarital interest in the improvements on the property.” Id. ¶ 4

(quotation simplified). However, we overturned that determination on appeal because the court “did not explain what legal theory gave rise to that equitable interest.” Id. ¶ 8.

¶5 On remand, the district court again determined that Farrell had a premarital interest in the home but this time premised its ruling on a theory of unjust enrichment. Oldroyd II, 2019 UT App 155, ¶ 4. However, we once again reversed the court’s ruling, this time on the basis that Farrell had never asserted an unjust enrichment claim. Id. ¶¶ 7–9.

¶6 In Oldroyd II, we further explained that Farrell’s pleadings did not raise a claim that he had acquired a premarital interest in the home. Rather, Farrell asserted that because he had “exerted hours and money into the home, including trade work,” he “should be awarded a sum certain from [Ann’s] equity in the home for all the work he has completed on the home, and for value of his trade work that he has performed for investment on the marital home.” Id. ¶ 7 (quotation simplified). In other words, Farrell raised not an equitable claim “for a premarital interest in property,” but “a claim for an equitable award of a portion of [Ann’s] premarital asset.” Id. However, because the district court had not considered equitable bases on which Farrell might be entitled to a share of Ann’s premarital interest, we left open the possibility that the court might determine that such an award was appropriate. Id. ¶ 11 & n.3.

¶7 On remand, the district court, for the third time, awarded Farrell a share of equity in the home. This time, the court recognized that the property was Ann’s premarital asset but concluded that Farrell was entitled to a portion of Ann’s premarital equity based on the contribution exception and the extraordinary situation exception. Ann again appeals.

ISSUE AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶8 Ann asserts that the district court erred in awarding Farrell a share of her equity in the home because Farrell’s contributions occurred prior to the marriage and the extraordinary situation exception is not applicable. “We generally defer to a trial court’s categorization and equitable distribution of separate property,” Lindsey v. Lindsey, 2017 UT App 38, ¶ 26, 392 P.3d 968 (quotation simplified), so long as the court’s judgment “fall[s] within the spectrum of appropriate resolutions,” id. ¶ 29.

ANALYSIS

¶9 Historically, we have recognized three equitable exceptions that may justify an award of one spouse’s premarital property to the other spouse: (1) the commingling exception, (2) the contribution exception, and (3) the extraordinary situation exception. See Lindsey v. Lindsey, 2017 UT App 38, ¶ 33, 392 P.3d 968. Only the contribution exception and the extraordinary situation exception are at issue in this case.

¶10 As a threshold matter, we note that it is somewhat unclear from the district court’s discussion whether it was relying on the contribution exception, the extraordinary situation exception, or both exceptions in awarding the disputed funds. The parties’ arguments on appeal primarily concern the applicability of the extraordinary situation exception, and they appear to be operating under the assumption that the court’s decision rested on that exception. However, given that the court’s application of the extraordinary situation exception was based on its determination that Farrell’s premarital contributions made it equitable to award him a share of Ann’s premarital property, we think it appropriate to address both exceptions in our analysis.

I. Contribution Exception

¶11 “Under the contribution exception, a spouse’s separate property may be subject to equitable distribution [upon divorce] when the other spouse has by his or her efforts or expense contributed to the enhancement, maintenance, or protection of that property, thereby acquiring an equitable interest in it.” Lindsey v. Lindsey, 2017 UT App 38, ¶ 35, 392 P.3d 968 (quotation simplified). Common examples include a spouse working for the other spouse’s premarital business without taking a salary, see, e.g., Rappleye v. Rappleye, 855 P.2d 260, 263 (Utah Ct. App. 1993), or a couple using marital funds to make improvements to or pay a mortgage on a premarital property, see, e.g.Schaumberg v. Schaumberg, 875 P.2d 598, 601 (Utah Ct. App. 1994). However, as we noted in Oldroyd II, “[p]revious cases addressing equitable division of premarital assets have involved contributions made to those assets during the course of the marriage,” and “Utah courts have not had the opportunity to assess the extent to which one spouse’s premarital contributions to another spouse’s premarital assets may be considered in the context of a divorce court’s equitable division of property.”[2] 2019 UT App 155, ¶ 11 n.3, 474 P.3d 467.

¶12 Having now been presented with the opportunity to consider the applicability of the contribution exception to premarital contributions, we are convinced that it does not apply in this context. Unlike a married person, an unmarried person has no reasonable expectation of any benefit from or entitlement to separate property owned or acquired by their significant other. Here, Farrell chose to assist Ann in building her home without seeking compensation.[3] At that time, even though he may have expected to eventually marry Ann and live in the home with her, he had no guarantee that would happen. “As a general rule, . . . premarital property is viewed as separate property, and equity usually requires that each party retain the separate property he or she brought into the marriage.” Walters v. Walters, 812 P.2d 64, 67 (Utah Ct. App. 1991) (quotation simplified), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Whyte v. Blair, 885 P.2d 791 (Utah 1994). Only “where unique circumstances exist” may a trial court “reallocate premarital property as part of a property division incident to divorce.” Id. “Generally, trial courts are . . . required to award premarital property, and appreciation on that property, to the spouse who brought the property into the marriage.” Elman v. Elman, 2002 UT App 83, ¶ 18, 45 P.3d 176.

¶13 Farrell had several options for protecting his interests, which he chose not to take advantage of. First, he could have entered into a contract with Ann requiring her to pay him for his services. Second, he could have negotiated a prenuptial agreement acknowledging his premarital contributions and granting him an interest in the home in case of divorce. Third— though likely an undesirable option given his relationship to Ann—Farrell could have filed a lawsuit bringing a quasi-contract claim, such as unjust enrichment, to obtain compensation for his services. However, the contribution exception is simply not one of the options available where the contributions occurred prior to the parties’ marriage.

II. Extraordinary Situation Exception

¶14 Just as Farrell’s premarital contributions to Ann’s premarital asset cannot support an award to him of Ann’s separate property under the contribution exception, they also cannot support an award under the extraordinary situation exception.

¶15 “The bar for establishing an extraordinary situation is high, traditionally requiring that invasion of a spouse’s separate property is the only way to achieve equity.” Lindsey v. Lindsey, 2017 UT App 38, ¶ 46, 392 P.3d 968 (quotation simplified). “A quintessential extraordinary situation arises when a spouse owns separate property but lacks income to provide alimony.” Id. In that circumstance, “an equitable distribution of the [separate property] would be well within the trial court’s discretion.” Kunzler v. Kunzler, 2008 UT App 263, ¶ 37, 190 P.3d 497 (Billings, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part); see also Burt v. Burt, 799 P.2d 1166, 1169 (Utah Ct. App. 1990) (“The court may award an interest in the inherited property to the non-heir spouse in lieu of alimony.”). The doctrine has also been applied in situations where a person did not contribute directly to their spouse’s premarital asset but their contributions to the marital estate allowed their spouse to enhance their own separate assets rather than the marital estate. See Henshaw v. Henshaw, 2012 UT App 56, ¶ 20 & n.7, 271 P.3d 837 (affirming an award of premarital ranch property to a wife, despite the fact that the value of the ranch had depreciated during the marriage, because the wife had borne “the financial burdens of the family in order to allow [the husband] to work almost exclusively on the ranch”); Elman v. Elman, 2002 UT App 83, ¶ 24, 45 P.3d 176 (affirming an award of stock in a premarital business to a wife whose income-earning activities allowed her husband to quit his job and devote time to managing and growing his premarital assets rather than contributing to marital assets). Taking on “domestic burdens” to make possible a spouse’s full-time participation in a premarital business may also be an extraordinary situation where the bulk of the business’s value is developed during the marriage. Savage v. Savage, 658 P.2d 1201, 1204 (Utah 1983).

¶16 But none of those examples reflect the situation we have here. Farrell seeks a portion of Ann’s premarital asset as payment for the work he did on the home prior to the couple’s marriage, not because Ann lacks the resources to pay alimony or enhanced her own separate asset during the marriage in lieu of contributing to the marital estate. And as we discussed above, Farrell had several options to protect his financial interests and to be compensated for his contributions to the home before marrying Ann. The fact that he chose not to employ any of these options does not give rise to the type of inequity that can be addressed only through the extraordinary situation exception. As a general matter, “equitable relief should not be used to assist one in extricating himself from circumstances which he has created.” Utah Coal & Lumber Rest., Inc. v. Outdoor Endeavors Unlimited, 2001 UT 100, ¶ 12, 40 P.3d 581 (quotation simplified). Thus, the district court exceeded its discretion in awarding Farrell a portion of Ann’s premarital asset based on the extraordinary situation exception.

CONCLUSION

¶17 Because we conclude that the contribution exception does not apply to premarital contributions to premarital property, that exception cannot be used to award Farrell a portion of Ann’s premarital interest in the home. Moreover, because Farrell had several options for seeking reimbursement for his premarital efforts, which he declined to exercise, awarding him an interest in the home at this stage of the proceedings is not justified under the extraordinary situation exception. Accordingly, we reverse the court’s award of the disputed portion of the home’s equity and remand with instructions to award the disputed equity to Ann.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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How do you protect your assets from divorce, lawsuits, etc.?

How do you protect your assets from divorce, government confiscation, lawsuits, garnishments, or seizure? 

Best way: own nothing. The government (in all its forms) cannot seize from you that which you do not own. 

Downside: when you own nothing, you control nothing. If your wife, for example, owns the car you drive and the house in which you live, there’s no guarantee she and the car and the house will always be around for you. 

You may have heard about creating an irrevocable trust or family partnership as a means of protecting your assets from creditors, and depending upon your situation and the laws of the jurisdiction that governs you and your assets, that may be a viable option. To know that, however, you would need to inquire with an attorney who knows and understands the laws of your jurisdiction. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://bestpennystockstoturnintobitcoins.quora.com/How-do-you-protect-your-assets-from-divorce-government-confiscation-lawsuits-garnishments-or-seizure-1  

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What are the significant changes to family law in the past two centuries?

What are the most important changes to the family law in the 19th century and 20th century up to today, and why?

In my opinion (and in no particular order): 

  1. No-fault divorce
  2. Abolition of the doctrine of coverture (femme couvert) 
  3. Tender Years doctrine (and the abrogation of the Tender Years doctrine) 
  4. Statutory child support 
  5. Same sex marriage 

We need to get one misconception out of the way immediately, and that is that wives were treated as the husband’s property in the past. They were not. 

This does not mean that women were treated differently than men and husbands under the law, but women were not treated as their husbands’ property and unmarried women could own property and enter into contracts. See Husband and Wife Are One–Him: Bennis v. Michigan as the Resurrection of Coverture (4 MIJGL 129, Amy D. Ronner Michigan Journal of Gender & Law) 

At common law, an adult single woman could own, manage and transfer property. She could sue and be sued. She could likewise earn money and enjoy it as her own. Once that same woman married, however, her status changed radically; coverture subsumed her legal identity into her husband’s. 

Blackstone described coverture status as follows: 

By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs everything; and is therefore called in our law-French a feme covert, foemina viro co-operta; is said to be covert-baron, or under the protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord; and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture. Upon this principle, of an [sic] union of person in husband and wife, depend almost all the legal rights, duties and disabilities, that either of them acquire by the marriage. The coverture doctrine prevented a man from granting anything to his wife or from entering into a contract with her. Such actions would be futile because they would “suppose her separate existence . . . and to covenant with her, would be only to covenant with himself.” 

The coverture merger was not mere metaphysics, but imposed real disabilities on the married woman. For example, a wife relinquished the control of her real property to her “baron” and although he could not alienate the rents and profits, he was not obligated to account for them to her. Moreover, her husband enjoyed complete control of his wife’s interests, which meant that he could alienate them and unilaterally pocket the proceeds. All chattels that a woman owned at the time of marriage and those she acquired thereafter belonged to her husband. The suspension of a wife’s legal identity also meant that she could not sue or be sued at law unless her husband had joined in the action or “ha[d] abjured the realm, or is banished.” 

Coverture prohibited husband and wife from testifying for or against each other in trials “principally because of the union of person.” That is, such testimony would be irrebuttably presumptively self-serving or self-incriminating. In criminal law, a husband and wife could not comprise a conspiracy because one person could not conspire with himself. They also could not steal from one another because the property belonged essentially to only one–him. In other situations the wife was utterly divested of free will and viewed as “inferior to him, and acting by his compulsion.” For example, because certain criminal acts on her part, short of treason or murder, were viewed as if done under his “command,” coverture bestowed upon the married woman a specie of immunity. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

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My spouse opens accounts in my name, forges my signature. How to stop it?

My spouse opens accounts in my name, steals checks, forges my signature. How do I get my spouse to stop?

Without telling me, my spouse opens store accounts in my name, steals my checks, forges my name on my checks and accounts. In our state, assets are divided 50/50 in a divorce, and that would be catastrophic financially for me. How do I get my spouse to stop?

This is a great question. The answer is not going to be very comforting.

Unless you are somehow able to prove to the court’s satisfaction that, in fact, your spouse opened accounts in your name without your knowledge or consent, if you cannot prove that your spouse forged your name on contracts or checks, then the poor judge can’t be expected to ignore the documents that show you—albeit falsely—have those accounts and debts and obligations. From the judge’s perspective, your spouse has very compelling evidence (even though but only you know it’s false and fraudulent). The judge needs proof that this evidence is fake before it can disregard that fake evidence.

Fortunately, it has been my experience that frequently a person in your position can often find the proverbial smoking gun that exposes your spouse’s fraud to the court’s knowledge. But if you believe you can prevail in a contest of “your word against mine,” you’re in for disappointment. Don’t leave it to chance.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Without-telling-me-my-spouse-opens-store-accounts-in-my-name-or-steals-forges-my-name-on-my-checks-In-our-state-assets-are-divided-50-50-in-a-divorce-and-that-would-be-catastrophic-financially-for-me-How-do-I-get-my/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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I suspect my husband fathered a child with someone else. Can I challenge our divorce ruling?

If I suspect my ex-husband fathered a child with someone else while we were married, can I challenge our divorce ruling?

If, by this question, you mean that

  1. you are the wife; and
  2. you discovered, after you divorced, that your husband had fathered a child during the marriage, but this fact was not known or adjudicated during the divorce proceedings,

it is unlikely that raising the discovery of the bastard/illegitimate (whatever term you want to use to describe the innocent) child would benefit you as the wife, if you tried to assert the discovery of this child as the basis for “challenging” or modifying the terms of the decree of divorce. Why? Because unless you could show that the discovery of this child has led to the discovery that the terms of your decree of divorce are unfair to you and would have been different had the court been aware of and taken the child’s existence into consideration when entering the orders that comprise your decree of divorce, discovery of the child may be irrelevant.

However, it may be worth your while to raise the discovery of this child with the divorce court, if for no other reason than to protect yourself from being deemed the child’s mother, given that the child was born, or at least conceived, during your marriage because it is possible for your husband to claim that the child is now your legal responsibility.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/If-I-suspect-my-ex-husband-fathered-a-child-with-someone-else-while-we-were-married-can-I-challenge-our-divorce-ruling?__nsrc__=4

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Do prenuptial agreements make a wedding/marriage healthier?

Do prenuptial agreements make a wedding/marriage healthier?

Make? In all cases? No.

Can prenuptial agreements make a wedding and marriage healthier? It is conceivable that some people might find planning for divorce before they have married a comfort to them so that they don’t worry so much about divorce while married because they believe they have already “addressed” that possibility in advance. And if a marriage fails that should fail, then having a prenuptial agreement in place in advance can (can but does not guarantee) help make the divorce process easier, faster, less costly, and less acrimonious.

Do prenuptial agreements generally make a wedding and marriage healthier? In my experience, no. With extremely rare exception, every marriage is going to have its rough patches, and I have found that prenuptial agreements make divorce deceptively easy to contemplate and desire when the going gets rough in marriage, even though divorce is neither necessary nor in either spouse’s (or their children’s) interest.

I have found that prenuptial agreements send the wrong message, and that message is: I don’t see marriage as a lifelong endeavor. I have so little commitment to marriage and so little faith in you and me and our impending marriage that I don’t think we’ll last, and because I feel this way, I want an exit strategy in place now. Who’d want to marry someone like that? Success is meaningless without the risk of failure. You can’t have the benefits of marriage without going all in, without risking having your heart broken. Spouses who are mutually devoted to each other will tell that a loving, supportive marriage is more than worth the effort, the pains, the disappointments, the sacrifices.

Marriage isn’t the problem. It’s marrying without being careful in one’s choice of spouse, without treating marriage as a sacred thing, and without being committed to your spouse’s and your marriage’s success.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Does-prenuptial-agreements-make-a-wedding-healthier/answer/Eric-Johnson-311?prompt_topic_bio=1

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How can I protect my assets before getting married without prenup?

How can I protect my assets before getting married without prenup?

Short answer: One option (not a very good one, frankly, but about the best there is under the circumstances as you describe them in your question) is: 1) own no major/valuable property before you are married (in other words, your spouse would probably not seek (and the court would probably not award to your spouse any part of) things like your clothes and personal effects, so you could live in a house and drive a car you lease and thus have no such “big ticket” items that could be sold and the proceeds of sale awarded to your spouse in divorce; 2) save nothing in the bank or in investments and retirement accounts, so that there is nothing like in which your spouse could try to claim an interest; and 3) ensure that you do not earn more than your spouse does, so that your spouse cannot make an easy argument for alimony.

Your real question may be this instead: How can I prevent losing too much (being treated unfairly) financially in divorce? If that is your question, it is a very good and very common one.

After all, most reasonable people would agree that what a couple acquires together during marriage is considered “their” property, “our” property, instead of “there’s yours and there’s mine”.

For example:

  • A couple marries and buys a house together in which they live for years. Sure, it may have been that one spouse worked full time while the other stayed home to take care of the kids and the house, but they’re a team, partners (in both a legal sense and a practical sense).
  • Saving up for retirement. It’s common for one spouse to be better able to pursue a career and advance in it (thus making more money for retirement) when the other spouse stays home with the children (at least while they are quite young) and keeps house. Both spouses understand that one hand washes the other.

The decision to purchase the house and the decision to have one spouse be the primary breadwinner and the other the children’s primary caretaker was made together, for mutual benefit. The spouse with the full-time job knew in advance that he/she would be sharing the house and retirement funds with his/her spouse and worked for the money needed to fund these things. It’s understood that these things are marital property that would be divided equally in the event of divorce. It makes sense.

But there are other issues that aren’t so clear cut. Many people—mostly husbands, but a growing number of wives—have this sense that:

  • “divorce should not result in my being financially exploited”;
  • “divorce should not result in being robbed of what was mine before marriage and what I acquired for myself during marriage”;
  • “I shouldn’t have to continue to support a spouse financially if I’ve done nothing to make divorce necessary; if my spouse wants out of the marriage and files for divorce, then he/she should do so with the understanding and expectation that with the end of the marriage comes the end of any and all of my obligations to support my spouse due to the fact that he/she is no longer my spouse”;
  • spouses who:
    • don’t carry their fair share of the weight during the marriage, who don’t do their best to contribute, and/or become financially dependent upon the other spouse as a result of being lazy (as opposed to spouses who are or become, due to disabilities beyond their control, financially dependent on the other spouse); and/or
    • abuse the other spouse and/or children, commit adultery, or waste marital resources (e.,, refuse to uphold their marital responsibilities with impunity)

are moochers in divorce when they demand that the people to whom they are no longer married nevertheless keep supporting them financially. There is something inherently unfair in that concept.

In response to these questions and concerns the best answers for me personally are:

  • If I am truly worried that my marriage could end in divorce to a gold digger, the solution does not lie in trying to figure out a way to protect my assets but in not marrying the suspected gold digger.
  • I did not marry to keep tabs on how much I have to lose in divorce. Yes, there are risks in trusting my spouse with my welfare (both physical and emotional), but the opportunity to enjoy a happy marriage is worth the risk to the right person. Now please understand: I get that sometimes you can do everything right and marry someone who was great but who later changed and turned on you. That’s sad, but not enough of a reason to avoid marriage, in my opinion. Well-rounded married people are generally much happier than well-rounded single people. Don’t deny yourself the joys and blessings of marriage out of the fear of divorce. There is no meaning to success without the risk of and the fight against failure.
  • There is no more reliable and cost-effective way to protect your assets in divorce than with a well-drafted prenuptial agreement. Warning: even the most well-drafted prenuptial agreements are not iron-clad, but they are better than nothing (far better) if you are concerned about protecting yourself from being raped and pillaged financially in divorce.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-protect-my-assets-before-getting-married-without-prenup/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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How can I protect my assets before getting married without prenup?

How can I protect my assets before getting married without prenup? Short answer: One option (not a very good one, frankly, but about the best there is under the circumstances as you describe them in your question) is:

1) own no major/valuable property before you are married (in other words, your spouse would probably not seek (and the court would probably not award to your spouse any part of) a portion of things like your clothes and personal effects, so you could live in a house and drive a car you lease and thus have no such “big ticket” items that could be sold and the proceeds of sale awarded to your spouse in divorce;

2) save nothing in the bank or in investments and retirement accounts, so that there is nothing like in which your spouse could try to claim an interest; and

3) ensure that you do not earn more than your spouse does, so that your spouse cannot make an easy argument for alimony.

Your real question may be this instead: How can I prevent losing too much (being treated unfairly) financially in divorce? If that is your question, it is a very good and very common one. After all, most reasonable people would agree that what a couple acquires together during marriage is considered “their” property, “our” property, instead of “there’s yours and there’s mine”. For example: a couple marries and buys a house together in which they live for years. Sure, it may have been that one spouse worked full time while the other stayed home to take care of the kids and the house, but they are a team, partners (in both a legal sense and a practical sense).

Another example: Saving up for retirement. It is common for one spouse to be better able to pursue a career and advance in it (thus making more money for retirement) when the other spouse stays home with the children (at least while they are quite young) and keeps house. Both spouses understand that one hand washes the other. The decision to purchase the house and the decision to have one spouse be the primary breadwinner and the other the children’s primary caretaker was made together, for mutual benefit. The spouse with the full-time job knew in advance that he/she would be sharing the house and retirement funds with his/her spouse and worked for the money needed to fund these things. It is understood that these things are marital property that would be divided equally in the event of divorce. It makes sense. But there are other issues that are not so clear cut. Many people—mostly husbands, but a growing number of wives—have this sense that:

  1. a) “divorce should not result in my being financially exploited”;
  2. b) “divorce should not result in being robbed of what was mine before marriage and what I acquired for myself during marriage”;
  3. c) “I shouldn’t have to continue to support a spouse financially if I’ve done nothing to make divorce necessary; if my spouse wants out of the marriage and files for divorce, then he/she should do so with the understanding and expectation that with the end of the marriage comes the end of any and all of my obligations to support my spouse due to the fact that he/she is no longer my spouse”;
  4. d) spouses who: don’t carry their fair share of the weight during the marriage, who don’t do their best to contribute, and/or become financially dependent upon the other spouse as a result of being lazy (as opposed to spouses who are or become, due to disabilities beyond their control, financially dependent on the other spouse); and/or spouses who abuse the other spouse and/or children, commit adultery, or waste marital resources (i.e.,, refuse to uphold their marital responsibilities with impunity); and
  5. e) spouses who are moochers in divorce when they demand that the people to whom they are no longer married nevertheless keep supporting them financially. There is something inherently unfair in that concept.

In response to these questions and concerns the best answers for me personally are:

One, if I am truly worried that my marriage could end in divorce to a gold digger, the solution does not lie in trying to figure out a way to protect my assets but in not marrying the suspected gold digger.

Two, I did not marry to keep tabs on how much I have to lose in divorce. Yes, there are risks in trusting my spouse with my welfare (both physical and emotional), but the opportunity to enjoy a happy marriage is worth the risk to the right person.

Now please understand: I get that sometimes you can do everything right and marry someone who was great but who later changed and turned on you. That is sad, but not enough of a reason to avoid marriage, in my opinion. Well-rounded married people are generally much happier than well-rounded single people. Do not deny yourself the joys and blessings of marriage out of the fear of divorce. There is no meaning to success without the risk of and the fight against failure.

Three, there is no more reliable and cost-effective way to protect your assets in divorce than with some wise financial planning and a well-drafted prenuptial agreement.

Warning: even the most well-drafted prenuptial agreements are not iron-clad, but they are better than nothing (far better) if you are concerned about protecting yourself from being raped and pillaged financially in divorce.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Are prenuptial agreements used only to avoid divorce settlements?

Are prenuptial agreements used only to avoid divorce settlements?

Prenuptial agreements are used primarily to avoid the expense, the misery, and the waste of time divorce actions can (and usually do) cause by agreeing in advance what the separate property and debts of the parties is now (so that there will be no confusion or argument over ownership and liability after marriage), what property and earnings acquired during the marriage will be considered separate property (instead of automatically being marital property, as it would be in the absence of a prenuptial agreement) in the event of divorce or death.

I generally dislike prenuptial agreements between young, penniless couples who wed for the first (and, it is hoped, the last) time because a prenuptial agreement in such circumstances sends the wrong message, i.e., “I don’t have faith our marriage will last, so I have an exit plan in mind already!” But for people who are already divorced or widows/widowers, a prenuptial agreement is not only a good idea but may be necessary to ensure that your property goes to your chosen heirs and not in full or in part to your new spouse.

Depending on jurisdiction, prenuptial agreements can address and resolve in advance the issues of alimony and child custody and support. Some states allow a couple to address and resolve these issues contractually between themselves, other jurisdictions provide that a court has the ultimate discretion over the resolution of such issues, even if a prenuptial agreement provides differently from what the court rules.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Are-prenuptial-agreements-used-only-to-avoid-divorce-settlements/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Would/did you sign a prenup when you got married?

I did not.

I generally do not favor young couples marrying for the first time making and signing prenuptial agreements.

Here is why:

Does signing a prenup change the relationship between a couple?

What is the easiest way to convince your fiancé to agree a prenup?

Would most people who are planning to get married do better if they got a prenup?

Is it necessary to ask your other partner to sign a prenup if you want your property to solely belong to you only?

Does it affect a relationship if just before marriage, your partner and a lawyer bring you papers to sign a prenupcial agreement? What would you do?

Do you believe a prenuptial agreement and real love between two people are mutually exclusive?

Do regular people who earn average incomes sign prenuptial agreements?

Can a prenup dictate that a reflection time is required before divorce?

Why would anyone go into marriage without a prenup?

How do people generally react if asked to sign a prenuptial agreement?

Why are prenuptial agreements not required for all marriages prior to getting a marriage license since divorces are about dividing assets and determining child custody/support? Wouldn’t this help make divorces easier and help avoid doomed marriages?

Does having a prenup demonstrate lack of trust in your future marriage?

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Would-did-you-sign-a-prenup-when-you-got-married/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Does signing a prenuptial agreement mean you expect the marriage to fail?

Expect the marriage to fail? Maybe not.

But anticipate the marriage may fail? Yes; otherwise they wouldn’t plan ahead for its failure. Now don’t get me wrong. No venture, marriage or otherwise, is guaranteed to succeed or fail. And for some ventures, it is sensible and prudent to have an exit strategy and/or a contingency plan in the event a particularly risky venture goes sour. But there are other ventures, marriage being the prime example, that require one’s full and unconditional commitment if they are to have the best opportunities for success. Marriage is intended to be a lifelong venture.

It is impossible to have faith that your marriage will be for life, for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, if you know that you and your spouse have already made plans for what happens in the event of its demise. Some ventures, marriage being the best example, are truly “burn your ships” propositions, so that you are not tempted to quit, to take the path of least resistance.

People say, correctly, that you need a “vision” of your future success to succeed at the highest levels in sports and business. The same can be said for a successful marriage. A prenuptial agreement, however, is a vision of future failure.

Now clearly, not every marriage is going to succeed. Some people need to break free of toxic and/or unsafe marriages. That’s why we have divorce laws. But making divorce easier doesn’t make marriage better. Indeed, just the opposite is true. Whether by design or by happenstance, divorce law and the miserable process to which they generally subject divorcing couples is good in that it provides a couple disincentive for divorcing to easily, from throwing away that which should be most precious to them and worth sacrificing (even greatly sacrificing) to preserve for their own sakes, both individually and collectively, and for the sake of a peaceful and prosperous society.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Do-people-set-up-pre-nuptial-agreements-going-into-a-marriage-because-they-expect-it-to-fail/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

Martin v. Kristensen – 2019 UT App 127 – divorce and unlawful detainer

Martin v. Kristensen – 2019 UT App 127

THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS
YVONNE MARTIN,
Appellant,
v.
PETTER KRISTENSEN AND FRANK O. KRISTENSEN,
Appellees.
Opinion
No. 20160265-CA
Filed July 26, 2019
Third District Court, Salt Lake Department
The Honorable Todd M. Shaughnessy
No. 084902378
Karthik Nadesan, Attorney for Appellant
R. Stephen Marshall, Cameron J. Cutler, and Kevin
M. Paulsen, Attorneys for Appellees

JUDGE JILL M. POHLMAN authored this Opinion, in which
JUDGES DAVID N. MORTENSEN and DIANA HAGEN concurred.
POHLMAN, Judge:

¶1 After lengthy court battles on multiple fronts, Yvonne Martin was awarded $140,285.54 in support payments from her ex-husband, Petter Kristensen, but was ordered to pay Petter’s[1] father, Frank Kristensen, $900,663.26 for unlawful detainer. Yvonne appeals from a number of the trial court’s decisions. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

¶2 This appeal stems from a consolidation of four cases: a divorce case between Yvonne and Petter; an unlawful detainer case by Frank against Yvonne; a quiet title case by Yvonne against Frank and Petter; and a fraudulent transfer case by Yvonne against Frank and Petter. The facts and procedural history relevant to each are given below.

The Marital Property and Divorce Petition

¶3 Yvonne and Petter were married in 1995. Both before and during the marriage, they signed marital agreements (the Marital Agreements) identifying their separate property and detailing how assets would be divided in the event of a divorce. As relevant here, the Marital Agreements provide that Yvonne and Petter did “not intend to share together in the ownership of any property.”

¶4 Yvonne and Petter lived in a house purchased by Yvonne in 1999 (the Property). Frank contributed $58,000 to the purchase price and, in exchange, received an “undivided one-half interest” in the Property from Yvonne. In 2003, Yvonne refinanced the Property, without informing Frank, for approximately $80,000. When Petter learned of the refinance, he was concerned because it increased the mortgage on the Property and eliminated the equity in the home to which he believed Frank was entitled. So in early 2004, Petter proposed a solution: Frank would pay off the now-$260,000 mortgage in exchange for full ownership of the Property, and Yvonne would keep the $80,000 she received from the refinance. Yvonne accepted the proposal and executed a quitclaim deed in favor of Frank, though Yvonne and Petter continued to live in the Property. In 2008, approximately four years later, Yvonne petitioned for divorce.

The Unlawful Detainer and Quiet Title Proceedings

¶5 Around one month after filing for divorce, Yvonne was served with a notice to vacate the Property. After Yvonne failed to do so, Frank sued for unlawful detainer. The complaint requested treble damages “from and including the 7th day of July, 2008, until possession of the rented premises is restored to [Frank].” In response, Yvonne filed a quiet title action against Frank and Petter, contending that “she was improperly coerced into executing [the] quitclaim deed to Frank” and that the deed was therefore void. The unlawful detainer and quiet title actions were then consolidated.[2]

The Temporary Orders

¶6 In April and July 2009, Judge Faust, the trial judge presiding over the divorce proceedings, entered orders stating that Yvonne was “to have temporary use and possession” of the Property. Yvonne had earlier attempted to add Frank as a party in the divorce case, and Frank himself entered a limited appearance in the case to protect his interests in the Property. The domestic relations commissioner assigned to the case, however, recommended that Frank be dismissed as a party. When the court entered its orders granting temporary possession of the Property to Yvonne, Frank was not listed in the caption or served with the orders.

The Unlawful Detainer Trial

¶7 In May 2012, Yvonne was still living in the Property, and the unlawful detainer and quiet title actions proceeded to trial before Judge Shaughnessy.[3] The quiet title portion was tried to a jury, while the unlawful detainer portion was tried to the bench.

¶8 At trial, Yvonne objected to or sought to admit, as relevant here, three types of evidence or argument. First, Yvonne objected to argument and testimony that allegedly conflicted with the terms of the Marital Agreements. For example, in his opening statement, Frank stated that Yvonne was trying to get “something for nothing.” Yvonne moved for a mistrial, asserting that the “opening statements that were given directly contradict what the pre-marital agreement says.” The court denied the motion because “statements made by counsel in openings are not evidence.” Later, during cross-examination of Yvonne, Yvonne’s counsel objected to a line of questioning regarding whether Petter ever paid money into Yvonne’s account so that she could make mortgage payments. Yvonne testified that under the Marital Agreements, “everything [that] comes out of [her] account[] is [her] money and whatever he puts in there is [her] money.” Her counsel objected, arguing that the “whole line of questioning [was] irrelevant” because “the agreement says that what goes into her account is hers.” The court overruled the objection.

¶9 Second, Yvonne objected to alleged hearsay statements concerning conversations between Petter and Frank. Among other statements, Petter testified that he “asked [his] dad for help” in paying off the mortgage on the Property. Yvonne moved to strike this testimony as hearsay, but the court overruled, saying that “the declarant is in Court now talking about a statement that he made.”

¶10 Finally, Yvonne sought to introduce evidence concerning a second deed between Frank and Petter executed a few weeks after Yvonne quitclaimed the Property to Frank. Frank objected, arguing that the deed was an estate-planning mechanism and not a transfer of the Property. The court was concerned about “the risk of confusion to the jury” on “a collateral issue” and sustained the objection.

¶11 Yvonne also objected to a jury instruction requested by Frank and Petter on ratification. That instruction provided,

The power of a party to avoid a quit claim deed for duress is lost if, after the circumstances that made the contract voidable have ceased to exist, she manifests to the other party her intention to affirm it or acts with respect to anything that she has received in a manner inconsistent with disaffirmance.

In ratification cases where undue influence tainted the execution of a . . . contract, it is presumed that the undue influence also tainted the ratification if the causative elements giving rise to the initial undue influence are such that the undue influence was likely to have continued. If the undue influence has once been exerted it will be presumed to follow and taint every transaction between the parties thereafter.

Yvonne objected to the instruction because it did not specify “who bears the burden of proof,” ratification was not “pleaded as an affirmative defense,” and there was “no Utah case law authority for” the instruction. The trial court overruled the objection and agreed to give the instruction.

¶12 After deliberations, the jury returned a verdict for Frank, finding that Yvonne did not “execute the quitclaim deed in favor of Frank Kristensen while under duress.”

¶13 Trial then turned to the unlawful detainer portion of the case. To prove his damages, Frank called an expert witness (First Expert) to testify on the rental value of the Property. Yvonne objected because First Expert was “not timely disclosed” and did not provide a “report or anything to accompany or suggest the foundation for his expertise.” The trial court, however, allowed First Expert to testify. First Expert testified that he compared “rental information” in the area on similar houses to estimate “a fair rental value” of the Property. Based on his comparison, he evaluated the Property’s rental value as $2,200 to $2,400 a month. On cross-examination, Yvonne elicited that First Expert’s evaluation was based only on 2012 rental figures; he did not “do an analysis of rental value as of” 2008 through 2011. Yvonne did not call her own expert witness.

¶14 At the close of trial, and based on the jury’s finding that Yvonne had not executed the quitclaim deed under duress, the court concluded that Frank was the owner of the Property and that Yvonne had been in unlawful detainer since July 2008. The court accepted the “low end of what [First Expert] . . . offered, in terms of the fair market value” and found it to be $2,200 a month, or $72.32 a day. The court then found that Yvonne had been in unlawful detainer for 1,425 days and, after trebling the damages under the unlawful detainer statute, computed damages of $309,168. The court also ordered costs and attorney fees, as allowed under the statute.

The Preliminary Injunction

¶15 After losing at trial, Yvonne sought, and received, a preliminary injunction in the divorce proceedings—now presided over by Judge Kennedy—enjoining Petter, as power of attorney for Frank, from “interfering with [Yvonne’s] right to remain in the [Property].”

The Fraudulent Transfer Proceedings

¶16 While Yvonne continued to live in the Property, she initiated a new lawsuit against Petter and Frank for, among other things, fraudulent transfer. In her complaint, she alleged that Petter owed her money from support orders entered in the divorce proceedings and that, in order to avoid his obligations, Petter “transferred funds and assets belonging to him to other individuals, without receiving any equivalent value in exchange for the transfers.” She then detailed several alleged transfers.

¶17 The case proceeded, and Frank and Petter moved for summary judgment. They argued that in each of the three transfers from Petter to Frank identified by Yvonne, “Frank provided a reasonably equivalent value in exchange.”

¶18 In opposition to their motion, Yvonne argued that there was a factual dispute over “whether Petter received value for the transfers.” She asserted that Frank and Petter had not provided sufficient proof to that effect and that a trial was “necessary to enable the Court to conduct proper credibility determinations.”

¶19 The court concluded, however, that Yvonne bore the burden of proof on her claim and that Frank and Petter only had to “come forward with some evidence” to support their motion. The court then went through each fact in the motion and found that “what remain[ed]” after Yvonne’s objections were “nearly forty paragraphs of largely undisputed facts.” The court agreed with Frank and Petter that there were only three “potentially fraudulent conveyances” concerning Frank and Petter, and it stated that the “undisputed facts show[ed] that there was reasonably equivalent value exchanged.” It therefore granted the motion for summary judgment, concluding that Yvonne “failed to provide evidence to support or sustain her fraudulent conveyance claim[].”

The Consolidated Cases

¶20 In March 2013—before Judge Shaughnessy had ruled on the summary judgment motion on fraudulent transfer—the divorce, unlawful detainer, and fraudulent transfer cases were consolidated. Judge Kennedy now presided over the actions, and Yvonne filed a motion for a new trial in the unlawful detainer portion of the consolidated cases. Yvonne argued that at trial the court “ruled erroneously on evidentiary matters” and “improperly instructed the jury on ratification.” She also argued that the court “incorrectly concluded that Yvonne unlawfully detained [the Property], as she was in lawful possession pursuant to court order.” Finally, she asserted that the court “improperly allowed expert evidence of rental value, as Frank’s expert was not timely disclosed and did not provide an expert report.” The trial court granted the motion in full.

¶21 The consolidated cases, however, were subsequently reassigned to Judge Shaughnessy, who had previously presided over the unlawful detainer trial.[4] Frank and Petter then filed a motion to vacate the order granting Yvonne a new trial, and the court partially granted the motion to vacate. The court upheld its earlier decisions regarding the evidentiary matters and ratification instruction—vacating Judge Kennedy’s order granting Yvonne’s motion for a new trial based on errors related to those matters—but it granted a new trial on the issue of damages. In doing so, the court stated that it wanted “to make sure that . . . there is not an issue on appeal when this case goes up with respect to the disclosure of any expert testimony.” It then ordered Frank and Yvonne, if she so chose to have an expert, to “serve a disclosure (1) identifying [the] expert, (2) providing a copy of the expert’s CV, (3) [providing] a brief summary of [the expert’s] anticipated testimony and (4) [providing] the basis for that testimony.” Yvonne was also given the opportunity to “informally interview” Frank’s expert or “depose the expert.”

¶22 At the new trial on damages, Frank called a new expert (Second Expert) to testify regarding the Property’s fair rental value. Second Expert testified concerning the relevant rental values of the Property from 2008 through 2015, which ranged from $2,100 to $3,200 per month.[5] Those rental figures for the relevant time period amounted to $224,534.10. Because Yvonne did not provide “an alternative basis for determining” the rental value, the court found that Second Expert’s figures were “the most reasonable determinations of fair market rental value.” After trebling the amount of damages to $673,602.30, and adding costs of $5,810.21 and attorney fees of $221,250.75, the court ordered Yvonne to pay Frank a total of $900,663.26.

Attorney Fees

¶23 In March 2016, after nearly eight years of litigation in the above matters, the trial court entered a decree of divorce and determined that Yvonne was entitled to $140,285.54 in support payments under the Marital Agreements.

¶24 Based on that award, Yvonne sought her attorney fees in defending her rights under the Marital Agreements, which contain an attorney fees provision. The court denied Yvonne her attorney fees on three grounds. First, the court concluded that “the terms of the attorneys’ fee provision in the [Marital Agreements] do not obviously apply to the dispute in this case.” It reasoned that “both parties relied on the terms of the [Marital Agreements] to advance their respective positions,” not to “invalidate [a] portion or all of” the agreements. (Cleaned up.) Second, the court concluded that even if the provision applied, Yvonne did not prevail in defending her rights. Although she was awarded $1,000 a month under the Marital Agreements, the court noted that Yvonne sought “substantially” more than that and therefore “lost on [her] claim.” Finally, the court stated that “the issues in the divorce portion of this case were simple and straightforward” and that “Yvonne represented herself at [the divorce] trial.” And though Yvonne was represented by counsel “over collateral issues,” the court stated that “Yvonne and her attorneys made no serious effort to bring to conclusion the few, simple issues that needed to be decided.” So, the court reasoned, “even if Yvonne was entitled to any attorneys’ fees, it would only be for the trial and time spent by attorneys preparing for the issues tried.” The court could not “identify any meaningful time spent by counsel on the issues that ultimately were tried” and therefore concluded that “an award of fees would be inappropriate.”

¶25 Yvonne appeals.

ISSUES AND STANDARDS OF REVIEW

¶26 Yvonne raises six issues on appeal. First, she contends that she cannot be liable for unlawful detainer when temporary orders entered in the divorce proceedings expressly authorized her to remain in possession of the Property during the pendency of those proceedings. This contention presents mixed questions of law and fact. Bonnie & Hyde, Inc. v. Lynch, 2013 UT App 153, ¶ 14, 305 P.3d 196. “Matters of statutory construction are questions of law that are reviewed for correctness,” while “questions of fact are reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard, with deference given to the trial court.” Id. (cleaned up). “The trial court’s application of law to the facts is reviewed for abuse of discretion.” Id. (cleaned up).

¶27 Second, Yvonne contends that the trial court erred in granting a new trial on damages in the unlawful detainer action. “It is well settled that, as a general matter, the trial court has broad discretion to grant or deny a motion for a new trial,” including granting a new trial on the issue of damages. Smith v. Fairfax Realty, Inc., 2003 UT 41, ¶ 25, 82 P.3d 1064 (cleaned up). We will reverse the trial court’s decision “only if there is no reasonable basis for the decision.” Id. (cleaned up).

¶28 Third, Yvonne contends that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on ratification in the unlawful detainer and quiet title proceedings. “Claims of erroneous jury instructions present questions of law that we review for correctness.” Miller v. Utah Dep’t of Transp., 2012 UT 54, ¶ 42, 285 P.3d 1208 (cleaned up). But an error in the jury instructions will result in reversal only if “the error is harmful and prejudicial.” Gorostieta v. Parkinson, 2000 UT 99, ¶ 15, 17 P.3d 1110.

¶29 Fourth, Yvonne contends that the trial court committed cumulative error in the unlawful detainer proceedings by allowing and excluding certain evidence. “We review the trial court’s resolution of the legal questions underlying the admissibility of evidence for correctness and the trial court’s decision to admit or exclude evidence for an abuse of discretion.” Beckman v. Cybertary Franchising LLC, 2018 UT App 47, ¶ 22, 424 P.3d 1016. To apply the cumulative error doctrine, we “must determine that (1) an error occurred, (2) the error, standing alone, has a conceivable potential for harm, and (3) the cumulative effect of all the potentially harmful errors undermines [our] confidence in the outcome.” State v. Martinez-Castellanos, 2018 UT 46, ¶ 42, 428 P.3d 1038.

¶30 Fifth, Yvonne contends that the trial court incorrectly granted summary judgment to Frank and Petter on Yvonne’s fraudulent transfer claim. We review the trial court’s “ultimate grant or denial of summary judgment for correctness” and view “the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Orvis v. Johnson, 2008 UT 2, ¶ 6, 177 P.3d 600 (cleaned up).

¶31 Finally, Yvonne contends that she was entitled to attorney fees in the divorce proceedings under the Marital Agreements. “Whether attorney fees are recoverable in an action is a question of law, which we review for correctness.” Express Recovery Services Inc. v. Olson, 2017 UT App 71, ¶ 5, 397 P.3d 792 (cleaned up). “We review the trial court’s determination as to who was the prevailing party under an abuse of discretion standard.” Id. (cleaned up).

ANALYSIS

  1. Unlawful Detainer

¶32 We first consider whether Yvonne is guilty of unlawful detainer when, approximately ten months after the unlawful detainer action was filed, the court in the divorce proceedings ordered that she could possess the Property while the divorce was pending. We therefore examine how the unlawful detainer statute operates and then address Yvonne’s arguments in light of the statute.

¶33 Under Utah’s unlawful detainer statute, a tenant at will[6] is “guilty of an unlawful detainer if the tenant . . . remains in possession of the premises after the expiration of a notice [to quit the premises] of not less than five calendar days.” Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-802(1)(b)(ii) (LexisNexis 2008).[7] Once a defendant is found to be in unlawful detainer, the “jury or the court . . . shall also assess the damages resulting to the plaintiff from” the unlawful detainer. Id. § 78B-6-811(2)(b). Subsection (3) of section 78B-6-811 requires that such damages be trebled. Id. § 78B-6-811(3) (“The judgment shall be entered against the defendant for the rent, for three times the amount of the damages assessed under Subsections (2)(a) through (2)(e), and for reasonable attorney fees.”); see also Aris Vision Inst., Inc. v. Wasatch Prop. Mgmt., Inc., 2006 UT 45, ¶ 23, 143 P.3d 278 (“[W]e hold that all damages directly and proximately resulting from [unlawful detainer] are subject to the requirement that they be trebled.”). Damages for unlawful detainer include lost rental value. Forrester v. Cook, 292 P. 206, 214 (Utah 1930), overruled on other grounds as recognized by P.H. Inv. v. Oliver, 818 P.2d 1018, 1020 (Utah 1991).

¶34 As our supreme court has explained, the unlawful detainer statute operates as “a mechanism for quickly and clearly resolving conflicts over lawful possession of property between landowners and tenants.” Osguthorpe v. Wolf Mountain Resorts, LC, 2010 UT 29, ¶ 22, 232 P.3d 999; see also Bichler v. DEI Sys., Inc., 2009 UT 63, ¶ 29, 220 P.3d 1203 (stating that “one of the primary purposes of the unlawful detainer statute is to provide a speedy resolution on the issue of possession”). It does this in part through the “severe remedy” of treble damages, see Osguthorpe, 2010 UT 29, ¶ 23 (cleaned up); see also Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-811(3), but also through expedited proceedings, see id. § 78B-6-810. These provisions are “evidence of a strong desire by the legislature to create a mechanism pursuant to which owners can be restored to possession of their property.” Osguthorpe, 2010 UT 29, ¶ 23.

¶35 Here, the court found that Frank has been the titled owner of the Property since June 23, 2004. He served Yvonne with a notice to quit the premises on July 1, 2008, giving her five days to vacate. But Yvonne, claiming that she was the owner of the Property, remained in possession until October 2015. That is, she “remain[ed] in possession of the premises after the expiration of a notice [to quit] of not less than five calendar days.” See Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-802(1)(b)(ii). And because Frank, not Yvonne, was the true owner, Yvonne was “guilty of an unlawful detainer” beginning on July 6, 2008, under the plain terms of the statute. See id. Therefore, Yvonne is liable for damages during the time of her unlawful detainer, including treble damages for Frank’s lost rental value. See id. § 78B-6­811(3).

¶36 To resist this conclusion, Yvonne asserts that, “[a]s a matter of law, an occupant of real property cannot be considered to be in unlawful detention of property when she is there pursuant to court order.” And because the court in the divorce proceedings “had entered an order authorizing her to remain in possession of [the Property] during the pendency of [those proceedings],” she contends that she was not detaining property unlawfully. We disagree for three reasons.

¶37 First, we are not persuaded that the divorce court’s orders granting Yvonne temporary possession of the Property transformed her possession from unlawful to lawful. Yvonne did not obtain an order granting her temporary possession until the end of April 2009. Frank sued for unlawful detainer, however, in August 2008 and requested treble damages “from and including the 7th day of July, 2008 until possession of the rented premises is restored.” Thus, the orders on which Yvonne’s arguments depend did not even exist until after she had unlawfully remained on the Property for nearly ten months. But Yvonne does not account for that time or explain how the temporary orders she acquired from the divorce court, which did not purport to adjudicate or alter her unlawful detainer status, both retroactively and prospectively excused her unlawful possession.[8]

¶38 Second, we are unpersuaded that the temporary orders in the divorce case definitively adjudicated Frank’s rights relative to the Property. Yvonne argues that the temporary orders were binding on Frank and that she is therefore excused from paying him damages for unlawful detainer. But the court in the unlawful detainer trial found that Frank was “not a party to the divorce case” and, in fact, “could not be made a party to the divorce case.” The court also noted, without objection, that “everyone agrees” that he was not actually a party.[9] Thus, Yvonne’s possession during the divorce proceedings may have been lawful vis-à-vis her husband, but that does not mean she lawfully possessed as between herself (a tenant) and Frank (the landowner). See Osguthorpe, 2010 UT 29, ¶ 22.

¶39 And even if the temporary orders bound Frank, Yvonne does not explain how that would excuse her from liability for damages for unlawful detainer. Yvonne cites Iota LLC v. Davco Management Co., 2016 UT App 231, 391 P.3d 239, in which the court held that “the orderly and expeditious administration of justice by the courts requires that an order issued by a court with jurisdiction over the subject matter and person must be obeyed by the parties until it is reversed by orderly and proper proceedings.” Id. ¶ 16 (emphasis added) (cleaned up). But this does not answer how an order granting temporary possession of property in one action affects the relief another party may receive in a different proceeding. The court in Iota spoke only in terms of compliance with an order, and here, Petter (and Frank for that matter) complied with the divorce court’s orders granting Yvonne temporary possession of the Property. Therefore, Iota does not help Yvonne.

¶40 Third, as recognized by the trial court, the “unlawful detainer statute itself contemplates that a court may enter an order allowing a person to remain in possession of property, but notwithstanding such an order, the statute still provides for treble damages against that person if that person is ultimately found to be in unlawful detainer.” (Citing Utah Code Ann. §§ 78B-6-810(2)(b)(i), 78B-6-811(3).) In other words, the statute allows for a determination of a right to possess; it does not purport to eliminate damages if the person given temporary occupancy is ultimately deemed to be without rights to the property. Yvonne relies on a concurrence in Bichler v. DEI Systems, Inc., 2009 UT 63, 220 P.3d 1203, to argue otherwise, but Bichler is silent about whether a party given temporary possession can ultimately be held liable for unlawful detainer damages.[10] See id. ¶ 41 (Nehring, J., concurring).

¶41 Yvonne argues that this reading of the statute is unfair. It is not, and the facts of this case illustrate why. As the trial court recognized, the unlawful detainer statute contains a “significant statutory safety valve that is designed to protect against excessive damages.” Specifically, the statute requires that “the court shall expedite the proceedings” and “shall begin the trial within 60 days after the day on which the complaint is served, unless the parties agree otherwise.” Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-810(1). Yvonne, however, made no attempt to resolve the issue of possession expeditiously. Yvonne was entitled under the statute to a hearing within 60 days of being served with Frank’s complaint, see id., but instead chose to move for three continuances, which pushed the date for trial from December 2010 to May 2012. Even after being found liable for unlawful detainer, Yvonne continued to reside at the Property for another three years, more than doubling the amount of damages. The trial court considered the “procedural history and the machinations of this case” to find an “unreasonable delay in the resolution of this case that takes a relatively manageable amount of damages,” i.e., approximately 60 days of rental value, “to an enormous amount of damages,” i.e., approximately 2,653 days of rental value. We see no error in that conclusion.

¶42 In sum, Yvonne proceeded at her own risk when she gambled a treble damage award on winning her quiet title action and subsequently on vacating the trial court’s decision in the unlawful detainer action. We affirm the trial court’s award of unlawful detainer damages to Frank.

  1. New Trial on Damages

¶43 A trial court may grant a new trial “to any party on any issue” if, among other reasons, there was an “irregularity in the proceedings” or an “error in law.” Utah R. Civ. P. 59(a)(1), (7). Yvonne contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it “permitted [First Expert] to testify” and “compounded this error by sua sponte granting a new trial on damages that permitted Frank to not only disclose a new expert but rectify the deficiencies in his previous expert’s testimony.” We reject this contention.

¶44 For starters, the trial court did not “sua sponte grant[] a new trial on damages.” Yvonne moved for a new trial, including on damages, after being found liable for unlawful detainer, and she requested that the court “hold such further proceedings as are necessary to accomplish substantial justice in this case.” The trial court granted Yvonne’s motion in its entirety, and Frank and Petter later succeeded in narrowing the new trial’s scope to the issue of damages. Thus, the court did not order a new trial on its own motion; it ordered the new trial, and defined its scope, based on the parties’ motions.

¶45 Further, Yvonne’s argument concerning First Expert’s ability to testify at the original trial despite not being disclosed misses the mark. In granting a new trial on damages, the court stated that it was “going to make sure that . . . there is not an issue on appeal when this case goes up with respect to the disclosure of any expert testimony.” It specifically required Frank to disclose his expert and provide a summary of the expert’s opinion. The court also ensured that Yvonne would be given the opportunity to “informally interview” or “depose” Second Expert. Thus, by granting a new trial, the trial court attempted to resolve Yvonne’s objections to First Expert’s testimony in the original trial by giving her the ability to interview Second Expert and the opportunity to call an expert of her own. “It is well settled that . . . the trial court has broad discretion to grant or deny a motion for a new trial,” and we see no abuse of that broad discretion here. See Smith v. Fairfax Realty, Inc., 2003 UT 41, ¶ 25, 82 P.3d 1064 (cleaned up).

III. Ratification Instruction

¶46 A trial court’s ruling on a jury instruction, though reviewed for correctness, “does not constitute reversible error . . . unless the error is harmful and prejudicial.” Gorostieta v. Parkinson, 2000 UT 99, ¶ 15, 17 P.3d 1110. Yvonne contends that the trial court erroneously instructed the jury on ratification in the unlawful detainer trial, but she makes only conclusory statements regarding the alleged error’s harmfulness. For example, she asserts that she “was not given the opportunity to take countermeasures” against the instruction and that she was “substantially prejudiced by the untimely submission of the jury instruction.”

¶47 A court “must disregard any error or defect in the proceeding which does not affect the substantial rights of the parties.” Utah R. Civ. P. 61. “[A]n error is harmful,” thus requiring reversal, “only if the likelihood of a different outcome is sufficiently high as to undermine our confidence in the verdict.” See Crookston v. Fire Ins. Exch., 817 P.2d 789, 796 (Utah 1991). It is the appellant’s burden to demonstrate that an error affected the outcome. Steffensen v. Smith’s Mgmt. Corp., 820 P.2d 482, 489 (Utah Ct. App. 1991), aff’d, 862 P.2d 1342 (Utah 1993); see also Avalos v. TL Custom, LLC, 2014 UT App 156, ¶ 24, 330 P.3d 727. And in determining whether an error is harmful, we consider, in context, “the totality of the evidence and proceedings.” Avalos, 2014 UT App 156, ¶ 24.

¶48 Without addressing the merits of the ratification instruction, we conclude that Yvonne has not shown prejudice from the instruction. She has not demonstrated, in light of the entire evidentiary landscape, how a different instruction would have changed the outcome of the trial. Besides conclusory statements that she was “substantially prejudiced,” she does not describe how the jury instruction affected her theory of the case. She argues that she “was not given the opportunity to take countermeasures” but never explains what those countermeasures would have been or how they would have been successful. She instead asserts that “it cannot be known” whether the jury improperly relied on the ratification instruction. But it is her burden to tip the scale toward a “reasonable likelihood” of a different result, and she has not met that burden. See Steffensen, 820 P.2d at 489 (cleaned up).

  1. Cumulative Error

¶49 We also conclude that Yvonne has not demonstrated cumulative error in relation to the court’s handling of certain evidentiary matters. She argues on appeal, as she did in her motion for a new trial, that the court improperly allowed evidence and argument undermining the Marital Agreements, improperly allowed hearsay testimony from Petter, and erroneously excluded evidence of a second deed between Frank and Petter. These errors, in Yvonne’s view, constitute cumulative error requiring reversal.

¶50 We have recognized that a trial court “has broad discretion to admit or exclude evidence.” Anderson v. Larry H. Miller Commc’ns Corp., 2015 UT App 134, ¶ 30, 351 P.3d 832 (cleaned up). And as noted above, an appellant “must shoulder the burden of demonstrating both error by the district court and prejudice, i.e., that there is a reasonable likelihood that a different result would have been reached absent the error.” Id. (cleaned up). Sometimes, an appellant may show prejudice “when a single error may not constitute grounds for reversal, but many errors, when taken collectively, do.” State v. Martinez-Castellanos, 2018 UT 46, ¶ 39, 428 P.3d 1038 (cleaned up). But under the cumulative error doctrine, not “all errors accumulate.” Id. ¶ 40. Rather, “the doctrine will not be applied when claims are found on appeal to not constitute error, or the errors are found to be so minor as to result in no harm.” Id. (cleaned up).

¶51 Yvonne has not shown that the trial court’s evidentiary decisions adversely impacted the outcome of the case. She asserts that “while the district court instructed the jury not to consider the fairness of the [Marital Agreements], this instruction was not sufficient to cure the prejudice.” (Citing Loofbourow v. Utah Light & Ry., 94 P. 981, 983 (Utah 1908).) But she does not explain how the testimony and argument she identifies harmed her case or why the jury instruction was insufficient to remedy any harm. See Avalos v. TL Custom, LLC, 2014 UT App 156, ¶ 25, 330 P.3d 727 (“In some instances, jury instructions may cure any error resulting from the improper admission of certain evidence.”). The primary issue at trial was whether Yvonne executed the quitclaim deed under duress; the jury was not tasked with interpreting the Marital Agreements or determining who owned the funds placed in Yvonne’s bank account. Thus, we are not convinced that the alleged error in allowing evidence to undermine the Marital Agreements negatively affected the proceedings.

¶52 As to the other alleged errors, Yvonne does not meaningfully address the trial court’s decision. The court already determined that, even assuming there were errors, there was no prejudice flowing from its evidentiary decisions. In vacating the previous order granting Yvonne a new trial, the court observed that the alleged hearsay testimony was “peripheral and did not have any meaningful effect on the jury’s verdict.” As for the second deed between Frank and Petter, the court found that it was “a collateral issue” and that “the risk of confusion to the jury [was] too great.” By not even challenging those findings, Yvonne has given us no reason to doubt the trial court’s evidentiary decisions. See Utah Physicians for a Healthy Env’t v. Executive Dir. of the Utah Dep’t of Envtl. Quality, 2016 UT 49, ¶¶ 18–19, 391 P.3d 148 (discussing an appellant’s burden of persuasion to “actually address the alleged errors” in the lower court’s decision).

¶53 Thus, without individually identifying harm resulting from these alleged errors, Yvonne cannot show that the errors accumulate for purposes of the cumulative error doctrine. See Martinez-Castellanos, 2018 UT 46, ¶ 40. We therefore will not reverse on that basis.

  1. Summary Judgment on Fraudulent Transfer

¶54 Summary judgment is appropriate “if the moving party shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Utah R. Civ. P. 56(a). To successfully oppose a motion for summary judgment, the nonmovant has the duty “to analyze the evidence” and “show that it create[s] a genuine issue for trial.” Stichting Mayflower Mountain Fonds v. United Park City Mines Co., 2017 UT 42, ¶ 42, 424 P.3d 72. A court is not obligated “to look beyond [the nonmovant’s] bald statements to identify supporting evidence buried somewhere in the record.” Id. ¶ 43. The trial court here determined there were only three “potentially fraudulent conveyances” and concluded that the “undisputed facts show[ed] that there was reasonably equivalent value exchanged,” which defeated Yvonne’s fraudulent transfer claim.

¶55 Yvonne contends that “the district court erred in granting summary judgment on [her] fraudulent transfer” claim against Frank and Petter. But Yvonne does not engage with the elements of a fraudulent transfer claim or with the court’s specific determination that there were no fraudulent transfers because the undisputed facts show that reasonably equivalent value was exchanged for the only potentially fraudulent conveyances she identified.

¶56 Rule 24 of the Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure requires a party to “explain, with reasoned analysis supported by citations to legal authority and the record, why the party should prevail on appeal.” Utah R. App. P. 24(a)(8). “An issue is inadequately briefed if the argument merely contains bald citations to authority without development of that authority and reasoned analysis based on that authority.” Bank of Am. v. Adamson, 2017 UT 2, ¶ 11, 391 P.3d 196 (cleaned up). The duty to develop an argument belongs to the party; it “may not simply point toward a pile of sand and expect the court to build a castle.” See Salt Lake City v. Kidd, 2019 UT 4, ¶ 35, 435 P.3d 248. There is no “bright-line rule determining when a brief is inadequate,” but “an appellant who fails to adequately brief an issue will almost certainly fail to carry its burden of persuasion on appeal.” Adamson, 2017 UT 2, ¶ 12 (cleaned up).

¶57 Yvonne cites no authority in the portion of her opening brief alleging error in the trial court’s summary judgment decision. She does not engage with her burden under rule 56 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure or the elements of a fraudulent transfer claim. She instead insists that “when all reasonable inferences are viewed in the light most favorable to [her],” there is sufficient evidence to create a disputed issue of fact on the merits of her claim. But without explaining the substantive law, Yvonne cannot show that her alleged factual disputes are material. See Utah R. Civ. P. 56(a) (requiring no genuine dispute as to “any material fact” (emphasis added)); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (“As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material.”). Thus, Yvonne has not met her burden of persuasion. Adamson, 2017 UT 2, ¶ 12.

  1. Attorney Fees

¶58      Attorney fees are generally recoverable only if authorized by statute or contract. Gregory & Swapp, PLLC v. Kranendonk, 2018 UT 36, ¶ 47, 424 P.3d 897. Yvonne contends that she is entitled to attorney fees under the Marital Agreements and that the trial court erred in not awarding them to her. She does not, however, address all the bases for the trial court’s decision to deny her fees.

¶59      “Our rules of appellate procedure place the burden on the appellant to identify and brief any asserted grounds for reversal of the decision below.” Kendall v. Olsen, 2017 UT 38, ¶ 12, 424 P.3d 12. Accordingly, “we will not reverse a ruling of the district court that rests on independent alternative grounds where the appellant challenges [less than all] those grounds.” Id. (cleaned up).

¶60      The trial court gave three reasons for its decision denying Yvonne her attorney fees. First, it concluded that “the terms of the attorneys’ fee provision in the [Marital Agreements] do not obviously apply to the dispute in this case.” Second, it concluded that Yvonne was not a prevailing party. Third, it concluded that Yvonne was not entitled to attorney fees because she had represented herself at trial. See Total Restoration, Inc. v. Merritt, 2014 UT App 258, ¶ 16 n.1, 338 P.3d 836 (explaining that pro se litigants are not entitled to attorney fees). Yvonne only briefly addresses the first two reasons; she does not address the third reason until her reply brief.

¶61 Yvonne’s failure to engage with the court’s reasoning until the reply brief is fatal. Kendall, 2017 UT 38, ¶ 13. Both the supreme court and this court “have consistently held that issues raised by an appellant in the reply brief that were not presented in the opening brief are considered waived and will not be considered.” Id. (cleaned up); see Blanch v. Farrell, 2018 UT App 172, ¶ 31 n.6, 436 P.3d 285. Because Yvonne did not challenge all the independent bases for the trial court’s decision to deny attorney fees in her opening brief, we will not reverse the trial court on this issue. See Kendall, 2017 UT 38, ¶¶ 12–13.

CONCLUSION

¶62 We conclude that none of the asserted errors Yvonne identifies require reversal. First, nothing in the unlawful detainer statute excuses Yvonne from paying damages to Frank based on the temporary orders issued approximately ten months after she was asked to quit the premises. Second, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting a new trial on damages in response to the parties’ briefing. Third, Yvonne has not shown prejudice from the trial court’s decision to give a ratification instruction. Fourth, Yvonne has not shown cumulative error in the trial court’s handling of certain evidentiary matters because none of the individual errors she points to conceivably affected the outcome of the unlawful detainer trial. Fifth, Yvonne has not met her burden of persuasion on her claim that the trial court mistakenly granted summary judgment on her fraudulent transfer claim. Finally, Yvonne has not addressed all the bases for the trial court’s denial of her motion for attorney fees and has accordingly placed that issue beyond appellate review. We therefore affirm.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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[1] Because two of the parties share a surname, we refer to each party by his or her first name, as is our practice in such situations. No disrespect is intended by the apparent informality.

[2] Unless otherwise specified, these combined actions are referred to in this opinion as “unlawful detainer.”

[3] The cases were originally set for trial in December 2010. But after three requests for a continuance, each made by Yvonne, trial was not held until May 2012.

[4] Judge Shaughnessy also ruled on Frank and Petter’s motion for summary judgment in the fraudulent transfer case after it had been consolidated. See supra ¶ 19.

[5] Yvonne ultimately remained in possession of the Property until October 2015.

[6] A tenancy at will is a “tenancy in which the tenant holds possession with the landlord’s consent but without fixed terms (as for duration or rent).” Tenancy at will, Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed. 2014). “Such a tenancy may be terminated by either

party upon fair notice.” Id.

[7] We apply the version of the code that was in effect at the time the unlawful detainer complaint was filed. The code has since been amended, though the provisions we cite are substantially the same.

[8] In Ute-Cal Land Development v. Intermountain Stock Exchange, 628 P.2d 1278 (Utah 1981), the supreme court held that a writ of attachment, which prohibited the lessee from leaving the premises, did not excuse the lessee from paying treble damages when the writ of attachment was served after the lessor’s notice to quit. Id. at 1282–83. There, the lessee was found guilty of unlawful detainer because the lessee could have vacated “when the notice to quit was first served” but did not. Id. at 1282. Similarly, the court orders here, which Yvonne claims excuse her from paying damages, were entered after Frank’s notice to quit. Though Yvonne was given temporary possession of the Property, she was free to vacate at any time. If the lessee in Ute-Cal was guilty of unlawful detainer, Yvonne must be as well.

[9] Until this appeal, Yvonne did not contend that Frank was a party to the temporary orders. Even in her motion for a new trial, Yvonne asserted that “Frank was added as a party” to the divorce proceedings but “was subsequently removed as a party.” Thus, the argument that Yvonne is not liable for unlawful detainer because Frank was bound by the temporary orders was not preserved for appeal. See Blanch v. Farrell, 2018 UT App 172, ¶ 17, 436 P.3d 285 (“To preserve an issue, the appellant must present it to the district court in such a way that the court has an opportunity to rule on it.” (cleaned up)).

[10] Our reading of the statute is consistent with the use of preliminary injunctions. When a court preliminarily enjoins a party from taking an action, it does not purport to immunize the protected party from paying any damages that may occur if the injunction was wrongfully entered. See Mountain States Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Atkin, Wright & Miles, Chartered, 681 P.2d 1258, 1262 (Utah 1984) (“An injunction is wrongfully issued and recovery on the bond is permissible if it is finally determined that the applicant was not entitled to the injunction.”).

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Are a prenuptial agreement and real love mutually exclusive?

Do you believe a prenuptial agreement and real love between two people are mutually exclusive?

Kind of.

And for the obvious reason implicit in the question: what kind of chance does a marriage have, if the couple has already planned an exit strategy? In that respect and to that extent, a prenuptial agreement and real love between two people are undeniably somewhat mutually exclusive. Success is unattainable without the risk of failure.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Do-you-believe-a-prenuptial-agreement-and-real-love-between-two-people-are-mutually-exclusive/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Do regular people who earn average incomes sign prenuptial agreements?

Pros and Cons: Prenuptial Agreements

Pros of Prenuptial Agreements

  • A premarital agreement can protect the inheritance rights of children and grandchildren from a previous marriage.
  • If you have your own business or professional practice, a premarital agreement can protect that interest so that the business or practice is not divided and subject to the control or involvement of your former spouse upon divorce.
  • If one spouse has significantly more debt than the other, a premarital agreement can protect the debt-free spouse from having to assume the obligations of the other.
  • If you plan to give up a lucrative career after the marriage, a premarital agreement can ensure that you will be compensated for that sacrifice if the marriage does not last.
  • A premarital agreement can address more than the financial aspects of marriage, and can cover any of the details of decision-making and responsibility sharing to which the parties agree in advance.
  • A premarital agreement can limit the amount of spousal support that one spouse will have to pay the other upon divorce.
  • A premarital agreement can protect the financial interests of older persons, persons who are entering into second or subsequent marriages, and persons with substantial wealth.

Cons of Prenuptial Agreements

  • The agreement may require you to give up your right to inherit from your spouse’s estate when he or she dies. Under the law, you are entitled to a portion of the estate even if your spouse does not include such a provision in his or her will.
  • If you contribute to the continuing success and growth of your spouse’s business or professional practice by entertaining clients or taking care of the home, you may not be entitled to claim a share of the increase in value if you agree otherwise in a premarital agreement. Under the laws of many states, this increase in value would be considered divisible marital property.
  • Starting a relationship with a contract that sets forth the particulars of what will happen upon death or divorce can engender a sense of lack of trust.
  • It can be difficult to project into the future about how potential issues should be handled, and what may seem like an inconsequential compromise in the romantic premarital period may seem more monumental and burdensome later on.
  • A low- or non-wage-earning spouse may not be able to sustain the lifestyle to which he or she has become accustomed during the marriage if the agreement substantially limits the amount of spousal support to which that spouse is entitled.
  • In the “honeymoon” stage of a relationship, one spouse may agree to terms that are not in his or her best interests because he or she is “too in love” to be concerned about the financial aspects and can’t imagine the union coming to an untimely end.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Do-regular-people-who-earn-average-incomes-sign-prenuptial-agreements/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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