The Appellate Group

Blake v. Smith

Blake v. Smith, 2023 UT App 78 (Christiansen Forster, J.)

Family Law

Smith appealed the district court’s custody and child support order for the parties’ child. The Utah Court of Appeals vacated the district court’s custody award and reversed the court’s child support award, holding:

  • The district court abused its discretion by awarding Smith sole physical and legal custody while requiring joint decision-making between Smith and Blake. While this arrangement is not against the law, joint decision-making is not compatible with an award of sole physical and legal custody.
  • The district court made a mathematical error in calculating child support.
  • Practice Tip: The court questioned whether the lower “prima facie” standard should apply in cases where the standard of review on appeal is deferential to the discretionary decisions of the district court. But because the issue was not briefed and the court’s decision concluded that the district court abused its discretion, the court did not comment officially on that issue.
  • Judicial Tip: The value of gifted items must be included in calculating a parent’s income for child support determinations.

Read the full court opinion