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New bill could affect alimony for Utah's stay-at-home parents

Many Utah couples make the determination that one parent will stay home to raise the children while the other works. This arrangement may work well while the parties are married, but, in the event of a divorce, it could become problematic -- particularly for the parent who stayed at home. The stay-at-home parent could find him or herself at a financial disadvantage without receiving alimony.

A bill that just passed through the Utah legislature's House Judiciary Committee recognizes this fact. HB 244 would make it mandatory for the state's family law judges to consider the fact that a parent stayed at home with the children when deciding whether to award alimony. Moreover, it could affect the amount of alimony a party receives.

At present, it is at the sole discretion of the judge whether a person's status as a stay-at-home parent is germane to the issue of alimony in a particular case. It is not known how often judges across the state consider this factor when calculating payments. Supporters say it is an important recognition of the parents' decision for one parent to leave the workforce and stay at home. Detractors believe it supplants the need for alimony with a status, and that it could worsen litigation in family courts.

The bill is now going before the Utah House for a vote. It remains to be seen with which side the state legislature as a whole agrees. New bills are introduced to state lawmakers all of the time, and, if family law attorneys fail to keep track of those that could affect their clients, the ramifications could be costly. Therefore, it should be a routine part of their jobs to be mindful of any changes dealing with alimony or any other family law issue.

Source:, "Alimony bill that has attention of stay-at-home parents moves closer to approval", Ashton Edwards and Tamara Vaifanua, Feb. 20, 2015

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