The Appellate Group

Tilleman v. Tilleman

Tilleman v. Tilleman, 2024 UT App 54 (Orme, J.)

Family Law

After contentious divorce proceedings, the district court awarded sole legal custody of children to Mother and joint physical custody to Mother and Father under Utah Code sections 30-3-10(2) and 30-3-10.2(2). For its child support determination, the district court imputed Mother’s income at minimum wage; the district court also awarded Mother attorney fees. Father appealed, and the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed in part, and reversed in part, holding in part:

  • The district court abused its discretion in its custody determination and must reevaluate, on remand, by considering all the statutorily mandated custody factors, in particular the one focused on past conduct and moral character. 
  • The district court must further consider, on remand, Mother’s imputed income and the award of attorney fees and costs in Mother’s favor.
  • Judicial tip: When undertaking a joint custody determination, courts are required to consider, in some fashion, all the section 30-3-10(2) factors and all the section 10.2(2) factors. 
  • Judicial tip: A district court’s discussion of the parties’ relative maturity, stability, and ability to care for a child constitutes adequate consideration of both parties’ past conduct and demonstrated moral standards. 
  • Practice tip: A party’s pursuing higher education does not preclude employment and thus does not support a reduction of that party’s imputed income for child support purposes.

Read the full court opinion