Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hahn v. Hahn

Court of Appeals of Utah

July 6, 2018

Randy R. Hahn, Appellant,
v.
Adrienne R. Hahn, Appellee.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Ryan M. Harris Nos. 154901148, 174100261

          Randy R. Hahn, Appellant Pro Se

          Kevin McGaha, Attorney for Appellee

          Sean D. Reyes and Erin T. Middleton, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Utah Attorney General [1]

          Judge Michele M. Christiansen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and David N. Mortensen concurred.

          CHRISTIANSEN, JUDGE.

         ¶1 After a bench trial, the trial court modified the parties' divorce decree and parenting plan, granting primary physical custody of the parties' minor children to Adrienne R. Hahn (Mother) and ordering Randy R. Hahn (Father) to pay child support. Father appeals, raising several challenges, including the constitutionality of certain Utah Code provisions governing custody and child support. We affirm and remand for the purpose of determining Mother's attorney fees incurred on appeal, which award we limit as described below.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Mother and Father divorced in New Mexico, entering into a marital settlement agreement and stipulated parenting plan, eventually agreeing to the entry of a final divorce decree in 2014. The parenting plan provided that the parties would share joint physical and legal custody of their minor children. The decree did not impose a child support obligation on either party. Instead, the parties agreed that no child support would be paid by either party for one year following entry of the decree so that each could obtain employment. Following this deferment, the parties agreed to calculate child support using New Mexico Child Support guidelines.

         ¶3 Mother relocated to Utah and in 2015, registered the decree, parenting plan, and related orders with the Third District Court in Salt Lake County. She then filed a petition to modify those orders. Father filed an answer and counter-petition through counsel, but he subsequently filed an amended answer pro se. Both parties asserted that a substantial material change in circumstances justified modification of the original decree and orders.

         ¶4 In his amended answer, Father also raised general constitutional challenges to Utah's child custody and support statutes. Father later filed a motion for declaratory judgment in the modification proceeding, alleging many of the same constitutional challenges. Mother responded with a request for temporary orders, including a request for child support of $1, 680 per month and attorney fees. Father responded and argued that no child support should be awarded to either party and also sought an award of attorney fees.

         ¶5 Following a hearing, a domestic commissioner recommended denial of Father's amended answer for child support and parent-time, and denial of Father's declaratory judgment motion as moot. The commissioner imputed income to Father of $10, 533 per month based upon Father's average earnings from 2010, 2011, and 2012, [2] and ordered Father to pay child support in the amount of $1, 369 per month. The commissioner reserved ruling on the issues of child support arrearages and Mother's request for attorney fees. Father objected to the commissioner's recommendations and requested a hearing before the district court.

         ¶6 The district court heard argument on Father's objections and overruled them, affirming the commissioner's temporary orders with some modifications. The court ordered Father to pay $1, 350 per month in child support, and to pay $1, 000 of Mother's attorney fees. The court's award of attorney fees was related to Father's "instigat[ing] unnecessary proceedings or litigation, . . . [and] mak[ing] arguments that are without merit." Because Father was unemployed at the time of the hearing, the court required Father to pay a minimum of $123 per month toward the ordered child support and apply for two jobs per week, or face potential contempt of court proceedings. Thereafter, the case was certified for trial on the issues of (1) physical and legal custody of the children, (2) parenting plan, (3) child support, (4) child support arrearages, (5) insurance coverage for the children and premium payment, (6) right to claim the children as dependents on taxes, and (7) attorney fees. Prior to trial, Mother relocated to a different city in Utah, and Father relocated to Texas from Utah.

         ¶7 In late January 2017, shortly before the bench trial was set to begin, Father filed (1) a motion to continue the trial, (2) a motion to disqualify the assigned trial judge and commissioner, (3) a motion requesting a jury trial, and (4) a motion for summary judgment. The presiding judge of the district court denied the motion to disqualify the assigned trial judge. The trial court then denied the motion to continue and motion for jury trial, reserving time at the beginning of trial to address Father's summary judgment motion.

         ¶8 Through his motion for summary judgment, Father sought a declaratory judgment that Utah's custody and child support statutes are unconstitutional. Father asserted that

Utah, like state courts across the country, has failed to protect [fundamental] rights. Instead courts have usurped these fundamental rights, enabled by legislative statute, in Utah no less, that: the government's interest is superior to the fundamental rights of fit parents and their children; and the government is entitled to determine custody and ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.