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Recent Utah Court of Appeals Case about alimony and dividing retirement when marrying later in life.

The Utah Court of Appeals has listed a new decision addressing alimony and dividing of retirement accounts when people marry later in life. The case is Petrzelka v. Goodwin20200305_20180923_34.pdf.

Husband had requested alimony. The trial court took his social security income, and his retirement income into consideration, and then also imputed income to his so as to satisfy his needs. As such, the trial court found that he had no "need". (As Husband had moved to California, the trial court found he could get a part-time job earning at least $15 per hour).

As to retirement, the trial court valued Wife's account as of the date of separation, not the date of the divorce as is the usual date.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision

Husband was 61 and Wife 42 when they married in 2004. Husband retired in 2012. They separated in 2015. The divorce was entered in 2018.

One may well note that in this case, the Husband was seeking alimony from the Wife, who was still gainfully employed; and, that Husband was seeking a portion of Wife's retirement fund that continued to grow after their separation. Yet, on both issues, the court ruled more favorably for the Wife -- a point for all parties to consider!

Your attorney needs to be aware of this case, particularly if you are pursuing a divorce later in life.

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I am David R. Hartwig, Esq., a Salt Lake City attorney with extensive experience helping parents resolve simple or high-conflict custody issues reaching arrangements that work for children and parents. Child custody involves parent-time and visitation schedules, and can affect support. I help in all of these areas, providing comprehensive service clients need to achieve their custody goals.

Factors In Child Custody Decisions

As an experienced Utah child custody lawyer, I understand that custody cases may become a contentious issue even years after an order is finalized. The trend in Utah toward joint custody often creates messy, unworkable situations, which ultimately lead to enforcement issues when parents do not abide by their custody orders.

The best interests of the child must be considered, including:

• Whether joint legal or physical custody will benefit the child's physical, psychological and emotional needs, or the child's development

• The parents' ability to give first priority to the child's welfare, and reach shared decisions in the child's best interest

• Whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent

• Whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce

• The distance between the parents' homes

• The parents' maturity and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents

• The parents' ability to cooperate with each other and make decisions jointly

• Any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnapping

• Any other factors the court finds relevant

Despite the complicated and sensitive nature of custody matters, I have helped many clients successfully establish custody orders.

Get Help With Your Child Custody Issue

If you have a child custody issue, please contact me, David R. Hartwig, Esq. I am an experienced Salt Lake City custody lawyer dedicated to helping clients resolve complex custody issues and implement necessary custody orders. For high-conflict cases, I am also one of the few Utah child custody modification attorneys trained as a Special Master for ongoing dispute resolution.


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