District Court, Provo Department The Honorable Darold J.
McDade No. 094401518
White, Appellant Pro Se.
R. Spencer, Attorney for Appellee.
Stephen L. Roth authored this Opinion, in which Judge Kate A.
Toomey concurred. Judge J. Frederic Voros Jr. concurred, with
As part of the division of marital property in divorce
proceedings, the district court awarded Dean White all
interest in a limited liability company, which owned a
residential property as its only asset. The primary issue on
appeal is whether the district court properly denied
Dean's claim to a homestead exemption in proceeds from
the later sale of that residence. Dean also raises an issue
regarding the allegedly improper service of pleadings upon
him, and he requests an award of attorney fees on appeal. We
affirm the district court's judgment and deny the request
for attorney fees.
Dean White and Julie Dawn White divorced in February 2010. Several years
before their divorce, the parties purchased a rental property
in Lehi, Utah (the Property). In 2007, the parties formed a
limited liability company known as "The White Empire,
LLC" (the LLC), having the parties as its only members.
They then transferred ownership of the Property to the LLC.
The divorce decree awarded the LLC and "all right, title
and interest" in the Property to Dean, and he began
residing in the Property. Dean removed Julie as a member of
the LLC, but the Property remained titled in the LLC's
name, with Dean as the sole member.
Between the entry of the divorce decree in early 2010 and
November 2015, the district court entered various judgments
against Dean totaling approximately $53, 000. Dean failed to
satisfy those judgments.
In an attempt to recover on the judgments, Julie filed a
motion in November 2015 seeking a charging order against
Dean's interest in the LLC pursuant to section 48-3a-503
of the Utah Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act.
The charging order would have, if granted, effectively placed
a lien upon Dean's membership interest in the LLC.
See Utah Code Ann. § 48-3a-503(1) (LexisNexis
2015). Julie requested that the court
order the foreclosure of the lien and the sale of Dean's
interest in the LLC if he did not satisfy her judgments
against him within thirty days.
Dean responded that the Property was subject to a homestead
exemption pursuant to Utah Code sections 78B-5-503 and -504.
He represented that he had filed a Homestead Exemption
Declaration against the Property about two weeks after Julie
filed her motion. In the declaration, he claimed the Property
as his primary personal residence, which entitled him under
the statute to a $30, 000 exemption from judicial liens,
execution, or forced sale. Dean asserted that taking into
account the mortgage on the Property, its net value amounted
to approximately $28, 000, or less than the $30, 000
statutory cap. And, according to Dean, because the Property
was the LLC's only asset, his homestead exemption
prevented Julie from executing on his LLC membership to
recover any portion of her judgments against him.
In January 2016, before the hearing scheduled on Julie's
charging order motion, the LLC sold the Property. Dean then
dissolved the LLC. As the LLC's sole member, Dean
received the $8, 621.30 in net proceeds from the sale.
Julie filed a motion asserting that the sale of the Property
amounted to a fraudulent transfer under the Utah Fraudulent
Transfer Act and requesting that the court either void the
sale or "issue a writ of garnishment on any account held
in [Dean's] name to which [Dean] transferred any of the
sale proceeds" to allow her to collect on the judgments
against him. Dean argued in response that the court should
dismiss Julie's request for a charging order because the
LLC had been dissolved and the sale proceeds were covered by
the homestead exemption, which left Julie with nothing from
which to recover.
The assigned commissioner held a hearing on the parties'
motions. The commissioner determined that the sale of the
Property was fraudulent and conducted in bad faith. The
commissioner also determined that Dean was not entitled to a
homestead exemption, because the Property was held in the
LLC's name, not his, and because a homestead exemption
could not be claimed "against a former spouse." The
commissioner recommended that Dean be ordered to pay Julie
all net proceeds from the sale of the Property.
Dean objected to the commissioner's recommendation and
requested a hearing before the district court. The district
court entered an order accepting the commissioner's
recommendations but also scheduled a hearing regarding
Dean's objections. At the objection hearing, Dean argued
that he was entitled to a homestead exemption on the sale
proceeds because the Property was his primary personal
residence. He also contended that the identity of a
home's titleholder or owner is irrelevant because the
homestead exemption statutes do not "make any
restrictions on who the owner is, who the house is titled to,
anything of that nature." Julie responded that the
commissioner correctly determined that Dean was not entitled
to a homestead exemption because the Property "was in
the name of a company" that Dean owned, not Dean
himself. She also argued that according to our holding in
Wiles v. Wiles, 871 P.2d 1026 (Utah Ct. App. 1994),
"a homestead exemption doesn't apply in a domestic
The district court denied Dean's objection, concluding
that because the Property was not in Dean's name, he was
not entitled to a homestead exemption in the Property or in
the proceeds from its sale. The court also agreed that
Wiles precluded Dean from claiming a homestead
exemption in connection with divorce proceedings.
Improper Service Allegation
Dean alleges that Julie failed to properly serve him one
legal memorandum and two proposed orders, all related to the
district court's ultimate determination that he was not
entitled to the exemption. The memorandum to which he refers
was Julie's reply to his assertion of the homestead
exemption. In it she argued that Wiles precluded the
homestead exemption from being used against ex-spouses. The
two proposed orders were submitted by Julie following,
respectively, the charging order hearing before the
commissioner and the hearing before the district court on
Dean's objection to the commissioner's
Dean asserts that he notified both the commissioner and the
district court that he had not received the legal memorandum
or the proposed orders from Julie and requested that she be
ordered to provide verification that she had served them.
Dean contends that neither the commissioner nor the district
court required Julie to provide verification and that, as a