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Stay-at-Home Parents may be Affected by Proposed Alimony Law

The Utah House is considering a controversial bill that would require judges to consider whether a spouse is a stay-at-home parent in alimony cases.

Bill Would Mandate Judges to Take Into Consideration Stay-at-Home Status

Alimony is a topic that impacts countless families in Utah, which is perhaps why any proposed changes to alimony law often prove highly controversial. A bill currently in the Utah House is proving just how contentious a topic alimony can become both for lawmakers and families. The proposed law would mandate that judges take into account whether a parent decided to stay at home in order to raise children when awarding alimony, according to the Deseret News. While the proposal may appear minor, it has already led to heated debate, with opponents calling the law unnecessary and proponents saying it will better protect the economic security of stay-at-home parents.

Stay-at-Home Law

House Bill 244, which was recently approved by the House Judiciary Committee and sent to the House floor for debate, would amend Utah's current alimony law. The bill, if passed, would make it mandatory for judges deciding alimony awards to take into consideration whether one parent decided to stay home and raise children rather than pursuing a career, according to FOX 13 News.

Under current law, judges are free to take into consideration a spouse's economic status, including his or her decision to be a stay-at-home parent. While such factors often do play a role in alimony decisions, there is no legal requirement that judges consider whether a divorcing spouse is a stay-at-home parent when awarding alimony.

Controversy Brewing

Proponents of the bill say that introducing the mandate will better protect stay-at-home parents in alimony cases. Obviously, a parent who chooses to stay at home to support his or her children often forgoes career opportunities, a decision that could make it difficult to find employment after a divorce. They say that the current situation puts stay-at-home parents in a precarious situation during divorce proceedings.

Opponents, however, have come out strongly against the bill. They claim that the proposal is unnecessary since judges already have the discretion to consider whether a divorcing spouse is a stay-at-home parent. They also contend that alimony awards are supposed to be based on need, but that requiring a judge to consider whether a spouse was a stay-at-home parent or not would instead shift the focus of alimony decisions to a divorcing parent's status.

Family Law

Alimony is one of the most important issues that will need to be resolved in many divorce cases. Decisions related to alimony can have a long-lasting impact on a person's financial security and need to be taken seriously.

As such, anybody involved in a divorce case in which issues of spousal support have to be resolved should contact a family law attorney. With such important decisions at stake, an experienced attorney can provide clients with the peace of mind that is often needed to make the best and most informed decisions possible.