The Appellate Group

Brown v. Brown

Brown v. Brown, 2020 UT App 146 (Orme, J.)


Jerry and Yvonne were married for nearly twenty-three years. Before marrying, Jerry had paid off his dental practice. He regularly diverted funds from the practice to the family purse when Yvonne asked. But when Jerry gave his practice a facelift, he was unable to divert as many practice funds into the family account. Jerry and Yvonne eventually divorced. The trial court determined that Jerry’s dental practice had become a marital asset and awarded Yvonne half its value. It also awarded Yvonne some $96,000 award for reasonable expenses incurred during their separation and during the pendency of the divorce proceeding. Jerry appealed both of those awards. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding:

  1. The district court erred in determining that the practice had become a marital asset. It is clear from the record that no marital funds were ever used to benefit the practice. A one-way flow of money does not convert the source of that money into a marital asset.
  2. The district court did not err in awarding Yvonne her reasonable living expenses from the marital estate. It is improper to allow one spouse access to marital funds to pay for reasonable and ordinary living expenses while the divorce is pending, while denying the other spouse the same access. The court did not order Jerry to pay her expenses; it ordered the marital estate to cover her expenses.

Read the full court opinion