The Appellate Group

McQuarrie v. McQuarrie

McQuarrie v. McQuarrie, 2021 UT 22 (Lee, J.)

Family Law

Husband and Wife divorced pursuant to a stipulated divorce decree that required Husband to pay alimony to Wife but did not expressly address the possibility of Wife’s remarriage. The district court denied Husband’s petition to modify the decree on the basis that the alimony obligation had terminated as a matter of law upon Wife’s remarriage. The Utah Court of Appeals concluded that the language of the decree demonstrated the parties had not intended alimony to terminate upon Wife’s remarriage. The Utah Supreme Court reversed, holding:

  • Regardless of the parties’ intent, if a divorce decree calls for payment of alimony, the payment is presumed to terminate upon remarriage of the receiving spouse, and the presumption is rebutted only if the divorce decree “specifically provides otherwise.” Utah Code § 30-3-5(9) (2015).
  • A divorce decree “specifically provides otherwise” only if there is a provision that speaks directly to the alimony payment in terms that explicitly prescribe a payment obligation that persists despite remarriage. In this case, there was no such alimony provision contained in the decree.

Read the full court opinion