Legal Memorandum: Determination of Child Support in UT

Issue: Under Utah law how will a court treat the annuity income, derived from a pre-marital personal injury settlement, for child support purposes?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Pre-marital personal injury settlement; Child support obligation; Court's discretion
Jurisdiction: Utah
Cited Cases: 846 P.2d 831; 104 P.3d 765; 48 P.3d 127; 616 A.2d 315
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2005

  Although no Utah case precisely on point was located, in the Colorado case of In re Marriage of Laughlin, 932 P.2d 858 (Colo. Ct. App. 1997), the court of appeals expressly held that [p]ayments received under a structured settlement related to a personal injury claim are considered ‘income’ under the child support guidelines.”  Id. at 861.  Likewise, in Spicer v. Spicer, 607 S.E.2d 678, 683 (N.C. Ct. App. 2005), the court of appeals held that the trial court did not err in considering as non-recurring income the father’s interest in a trust established from settlement proceeds following a disabling accident.  See also Tulloch v. Flickinger, 616 A.2d 315 (Del. 1992) (trial court may have had discretion under state law to attach the husband’s periodic annuity payments received from an insurance company for settlement of a pre-marital personal injury claim, in order to satisfy child support obligations).

It appears to be well settled that when considering child support obligations, the court should consider disability benefits as income.  See In re Marriage of Henry, 23 Cal. Rptr. 3d 707, 710 (Ct. App. 2005) (disability insurance benefits); Groenstein v. Groenstein, 104 P.3d 765, 772 (Wyo. 2005) (disability benefits); Nero v. Nero, 48 P.3d 127, 130 (Okla. Civ. App. 2002) (veterans’ disability compensation); Guglielmino v. Guglielmino, Conn. Super. Ct. June 3, 2002 (No. FA010448440S) (worker’s compensation payments); In re Marriage of Pieretti, 822 P.2d at 735-36 (disability payments).  In In re Henry, […]

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