The Appellate Group

Nelson v. Nelson, 2023 UT App 38 (Luthy, J.)

Nelson v. Nelson

Civil Procedures

After Isaac and Stashia Nelson divorced, they modified Isaac’s child support obligation through mediation. Later, Stashia sought to collect Isaac’s unpaid support accrued before they modified Isaac’s support obligation, but Isaac asserted that claim preclusion prevented her from doing so. The district court disagreed and ordered him to pay the past-due support. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, explaining:

  • Stashia did not present a claim for unpaid child support in the modification proceedings, so the district court did not clearly err in concluding that the parties’ amended decree was not intended to preclude Stashia’s claim for child support arrears.
  • Practice Tip: In a footnote, the court cautions that rule 7B’s “motion to enforce order” procedure has replaced and “supersedes” the prior “order to show cause” procedure in domestic relations actions. Similarly, a new “motion to enforce order” procedure in rule 7A applies in civil proceedings. In the domestic context, rule 101(k)’s “order to show cause” procedure is still in play. The rules committee should revise rule 101(k) to conform to rule 7B’s new requirements.
  • Practice Tip: The district court found only that Stashia did not “waive” her claim; it was silent on the issue of forfeiture. The court of appeals found both that Stashia “neither waived nor forfeited her right to assert her claim.” The court advises that these are distinct doctrines and should be treated distinctly.

Read the full court opinion