McCrary v. McCrary, 16245

Decision Date29 August 1979
Docket NumberNo. 16245,16245
Citation599 P.2d 1248
PartiesGary A. McCRARY, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Ernestine McCRARY aka Ernestine Paulsen, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtUtah Supreme Court

Keith E. Murray, Ogden, for defendant and appellant.

Pete N. Vlahos, Ogden, for plaintiff and respondent.

HALL, Justice:

Defendant appeals from an order of the district court which modified a decree of divorce so as to require her to pay child support.

The parties to this action were married in 1955 and divorced in 1970. Five children were born of the marriage, three of whom are still minors. At the time of the divorce, defendant was granted custody of all the children, plaintiff being ordered to pay child support in the amount of $40 per child per month. Subsequent to the divorce, defendant moved to Montana.

In 1974, upon petition by plaintiff, the court modified the original decree, granting plaintiff custody of the minor children and terminating his child support obligations to defendant. Subsequent to this modification, plaintiff suffered an injury in the course of his employment at Hill Air Force Base. The ensuing disability has prevented his pursuing his customary employment, limiting his personal income to certain disability benefits amounting to about one-half of his former salary. On this basis, in 1978, plaintiff again petitioned the trial court for a modification of the decree of divorce ordering defendant to contribute to the support of the remaining minor children. At the time of the petition, defendant was unemployed, and had a bank account containing approximately $5,300. Plaintiff had remarried since the divorce, his second wife being employed but supporting children by her own former marriage. Plaintiff and his second wife own substantial equity in their present home, and recently purchased a motor home.

As had often been the case in past proceedings relating to the divorce, defendant did not appear in person to defend against the 1978 motion to modify the divorce decree. She was, however, represented by counsel, and, upon the stipulation, entered certain answers to interrogatories posed by plaintiff as her testimony in the matter. 1 The trial court accepting her representations regarding her present financial status and unemployment but finding that "(t)here is really no reason why she does not work," ordered defendant to pay to plaintiff $25 per month per child.

On appeal, defendant urges this Court to set aside the ruling of the trial court as an abuse of its discretion, in light of the equities involved.

Under Utah law, a trial court granting a decree of divorce is afforded considerable discretion in the area of property distribution. 2 Moreover, the court has continuing jurisdiction over the parties with regard to the decree, enabling it to make such subsequent modifications as are equitable. 3 The breadth of discretionary power given the trial court in the initial determination of the property division extends in equal measure to these subsequent modifications. 4

In these matters, a party seeking a reversal of the trial court must prove a misunderstanding or misapplication of the law resulting in substantial and prejudicial error, or that the evidence clearly preponderated against the findings, or that such a serious inequity resulted from the order as to constitute an abuse of the trial court's discretion. 5 It is not the role of the appellate forum in such cases to evaluate the sagacity of the trial court's decision, being based as it is on shadings of fact and circumstance unavailable to the reviewing court. If the decision rests properly within the bounds of judicial discretion imposed by law, our inquiry is at an end. Defendant refers us to the case of Hendricks v. Hendricks 6 for the proposition...

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8 cases
  • Colman v. Colman
    • United States
    • Utah Court of Appeals
    • October 2, 1987
    ...or that such a serious inequity resulted from the order as to constitute an abuse of the trial court's discretion. McCrary v. McCrary, 599 P.2d 1248, 1250 (Utah 1979). That the property distribution may not have been mathematically equal is not sufficient grounds to constitute an abuse of d......
  • Savage v. Savage
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • February 9, 1983
    ...injustice or inequity as to indicate a clear abuse of discretion. Id. at 8 (citations omitted) (emphasis added). See also McCrary v. McCrary, Utah, 599 P.2d 1248 (1979). The defendant's objections to the trial court's division of the Savage Companies stock focus on the court's failure to de......
  • Christiansen v. Christiansen, 18132
    • United States
    • Utah Supreme Court
    • June 23, 1983
    ...This deference applies as much to findings in a modification proceeding as to findings in the initial divorce decree. McCrary v. McCrary, Utah, 599 P.2d 1248 (1979); Mitchell v. Mitchell, supra. Thus in Mitchell v. Mitchell, supra, at 1361, we stated: "The determination of the trial court t......
  • Stone v. Stone
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • February 8, 1984
    ...783 (1981); Ionno v. Ionno, 148 N.J.Super. 259, 372 A.2d 624 (1977); Conway v. Dana, 456 Pa. 536, 318 A.2d 324 (1974); McCrary v. McCrary, 599 P.2d 1248 (Utah 1979). See generally H. Krause, Child Support in America 3-7 (1981); Annot., 98 A.L.R.3d 1146 In this case, Mr. Stone estimated that......
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