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All About the New 2024 Alimony Laws in Utah

All About the New 2024 Alimony Laws in Utah

The Utah legislature has recently passed a new law that will affect all spouses seeking alimony (spousal support).  The law goes into effect on May 1, 2024.  Given how contentious alimony cases can be, and without having hard and fast Utah laws in regards to how much alimony should be paid (for example, some states say 30% of net income—Utah has no such thing), this law is a welcomed change for many divorce attorneys in Ogden and across the state.  

Section I: What Is the New Alimony Law

The new law, which will amend § 30-3-5 of the Utah Code, states that if (1) a marriage has been in effect for 10 years or longer; and (2) if the spouses agreed that one spouse would stay home and watch the kids; and (3) that spouse has reduced workplace experience because they stayed home to watch the kids, then it will be the rebuttable presumption of the court (meaning the court will usually default to this opinion) that the spouse’s standards of living will be equalized after the divorce.  While we don’t yet have instruction from the Utah Court of Appeals or the Utah Supreme Court in defining terms and explaining how this law should be applied, most attorneys interpret this new law to mean that if a couple has been married for 10 years, and if one of the spouses has diminished workplace experience because they stayed home to watch the kids, then the court will usually default to ensuring both spouses have an equal amount of net income (income after tax deductions) after the divorce is over.  

Section II: How is this Different from Existing Alimony Law

This new provision introduces a significant difference in existing alimony law. Previously, alimony determinations were based on various factors such as the length of the marriage, how much money the spouses spent during the marriage, each spouse’s income, and various other factors that frequently led to a lot of litigation during the divorce process.  These new 2024 alimony laws drastically simplify this process for couples that have been married for 10+ years and where one spouse was a stay-at-home parent.  This law specifically attempts to resolve disputes in marriages where one spouse has sacrificed their career advancement opportunities to prioritize childcare responsibilities within the marriage. 

Section III: So What Does this Mean in Practice?

This is how this plays out in a real-world scenario.  Jane and John have been married 12 years and have two children.  John was the breadwinner in the home and Jane stayed home to care for the children.  At divorce, John has a gross yearly income of $100,000 ($8,333 per month).  After taxes, John has a net yearly income of $69,320.50 ($5,776.71 per month).  Jane got a job and now makes $30,000 annually ($2,500 per month).  After taxes, Jane has a net yearly income of $22,817.50 ($1,901.46 per month). So, Jane’s net income $3,875.25 less than Johns, and under this new 2024 alimony law, the court will look to equalize the net income between the parties.  To do that, John would need to pay Jane $1,938 per month, which would leave him with a net income of $3,838.71 and Jane with $3,839.46, placing them less than a dollar apart in their final net income calculations.  Of course, some of this payment would be allocated as child support and some of it alimony, but the point is that both parties are ultimately left with an equal amount of net income. 

It’s important to note that the law doesn’t say the court must do this.  Instead, the law requires the judge to assume this is the best course of action unless one of the parties convinces the court otherwise.  For instance, scenarios where a party may convince the court that they need more net income than the other party could include cases where one spouse has specific healthcare needs the other party doesn’t have, or even perhaps when one party is at “fault” for the breakdown of the marriage. 

Contact Us for Help

As experienced Utah divorce attorneys, our firm located in Ogden, Utah is dedicated to providing comprehensive guidance and advocacy tailored to the unique needs of each client. From navigating alimony disputes to addressing complex legal issues, including the impact of the latest legislative changes, we are committed to safeguarding our clients’ rights and securing favorable outcomes.

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