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Bell v. Bell, 2013 UT App 248 (October 18, 2013)

Oct 18, 2013

The Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s award of joint custody because the court had not required the parties to file the parenting plan required by Utah Code section 30-3-10.2(1). Bell, 2013 UT App 248, ¶ 34. Even though the issue was not properly preserved in the trial court, the court refused to “disregard controlling authority” and held the award of joint custody to have been an abuse of discretion. Id. ¶ 15. The court also held that the assumptions behind the trial court’s imputation of income to wife were flawed, were inadequately explained, and failed to take into account wife’s status as caregiver for a severely disabled child. Id. ¶ 19. The property division was reversed because of inadequate findings concerning valuations or exceptional circumstances supporting an unequal property division. Id. ¶ 23. The attorney fee award was also inadequately explained in the trial court’s findings, and was reversed despite apparent failure to preserve the issue in the lower court. Id. ¶ 24. (Wife was a pro se litigant.)