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Hosking v. Chambers

Court of Appeals of Utah

October 12, 2018

Craig Hosking, Appellee,
v.
Erin Jo Chambers, Appellant.

          Second District Court, Ogden Department The Honorable W. Brent West No. 044901699

          Jason B. Richards, Brandon R. Richards, and Christopher Hill, Attorneys for Appellant

          Troy L. Booher, Julie J. Nelson, and Laura M. Rasmussen, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Ryan M. Harris authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.

          HARRIS, JUDGE

         ¶1 After their divorce in 2008, Craig Hosking was ordered to pay alimony to Erin Jo Chambers. In 2012, suspecting that Chambers might be cohabiting with a new boyfriend, Hosking asked the district court to terminate his alimony obligation. After holding a two-day evidentiary hearing, the district court determined that Chambers was indeed cohabiting, and granted Hosking's petition. Chambers appeals, and asks us to consider two issues. First, she asserts that the district court's cohabitation determination was unsupported. Second, she contends that the district court failed to address certain other issues pertaining to the division of property in the decree of divorce. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Because the two issues Chambers raises are grounded in different underlying facts, we set forth the facts relevant to each issue separately, in turn.

         Cohabitation

         ¶3 Chambers and Hosking married in 1997 and divorced in 2008. As part of the decree of divorce, the court ordered Hosking to pay Chambers alimony of $8, 000 per month for three years, then $7, 000 per month for four additional years. Alimony would cease after seven years, or "upon the death of either party, or upon the re-marriage or co-habitation of [Chambers]."

         ¶4 In 2011, after making alimony payments for more than three years, Hosking ran across an obituary that described Chambers as the spouse of the deceased's brother. His interest piqued, Hosking hired two private investigators to determine whether Chambers was cohabiting. One of the private investigators surveilled Chambers and her boyfriend (Boyfriend) daily from August to November 2011, and again during late December 2011 and early January 2012. The other private investigator surveilled Chambers's Ogden residence daily for seventeen days in March 2012. In May 2012, after examining the results of the surveillance, Hosking filed a petition to terminate alimony, alleging that Chambers was cohabiting with Boyfriend.

         ¶5 In 2015, the court held a two-day evidentiary hearing to consider Hosking's petition. Hosking introduced testimony from the two private investigators, and also presented documentary evidence obtained during discovery from Chambers and from Boyfriend, including bank statements, credit card statements, insurance policies, and other financial records. The investigators testified that Boyfriend owned a condominium in Provo, and traveled often for work, but that he spent the majority of his non-traveling time at Chambers's residence in Ogden rather than at his condo in Provo.

         ¶6 The first investigator testified that, between late August and early November 2011, Boyfriend spent twenty-four nights at Chambers's residence and only fifteen nights in Provo. The investigator observed that Boyfriend traveled frequently for work and would return to the Ogden residence after traveling. He also observed that Boyfriend often drove three vehicles, each of which was regularly parked at the Ogden residence. Boyfriend drove one of those vehicles-later determined to belong to Chambers-not only to his job in Provo, but to the airport where he left it for several days while apparently on a trip to Hawai'i. The investigator also testified that Boyfriend stayed at the Ogden residence continuously from December 19 to 27, and again during the first weekend of January 2012. The investigator also testified that, during the entire period of surveillance, Boyfriend regularly attended church with Chambers in Ogden. He also observed that Boyfriend's parents took care of the Ogden residence while Chambers and Boyfriend were out of town. On a separate occasion, the investigator observed Chambers take care of a house owned by a member of Boyfriend's family.

         ¶7 The second investigator surveilled the Ogden residence for seventeen days in March 2012. He testified that he observed Boyfriend stay at the Ogden residence for thirteen of those nights, and that the house was empty the remaining four nights. He also testified that Boyfriend helped with yard work and household chores, and attended church with Chambers in Ogden. He testified that he observed the same three cars observed by the first investigator parked regularly at the Ogden residence, and that Boyfriend regularly drove all three cars. Moreover, he testified that two of these cars were registered to Chambers and Boyfriend jointly. He also testified that Boyfriend appeared to have independent access to the house, stating as follows: "He could come and go from the front door. He could come and go from the garage doors. He could come and go and leave the home at will. He didn't need help from anybody. Never knocked on a door. Never stood outside and made a phone call."

         ¶8 During this time period, Chambers was attempting to sell the residence, and the second investigator posed as a potential homebuyer in order to gain access to the interior of the house. While inside the house, the investigator observed men's clothing in the closet of the master bedroom that matched the type of clothing that he observed Boyfriend wearing during his surveillance. He also observed men's grooming products, including shaving cream and men's shampoo, in the master bathroom.

         ¶9 The financial records presented by Hosking indicated that Chambers and Boyfriend owned two vehicles together and held five joint insurance policies. In addition, the records demonstrated that Chambers and Boyfriend had a joint bank account and frequently transferred various sums of money to each other, including large amounts up to $30, 000. The two had applied for a mortgage on the Ogden residence together, first in 2008, and again in 2012. On the 2008 application, Boyfriend listed his Provo address as his residence, but on the 2012 application he indicated that he had lived at the Ogden residence for a year.

         ¶10 Chambers and Boyfriend disputed Hosking's characterization of their living arrangements. Both testified that Boyfriend lacked independent access to the house, did not keep any clothes in the house, and did not meaningfully contribute to household expenses. Both testified that Boyfriend kept his Provo condo as his primary residence and only occupied the Ogden home infrequently and as a guest. Both testified that Boyfriend occasionally spent the night in Ogden because Chambers was afraid of the private investigators-whom Chambers and Boyfriend had noticed loitering near the residence-and that Boyfriend would often sleep in his car in front of the house. And both characterized the various transfers of money between themselves as loans with repayment obligations.

         ¶11 Chambers's mother testified at trial, acknowledging that Chambers and Boyfriend had a very close relationship, and that at the time of a pretrial deposition, she did not know whether Chambers and Boyfriend were married or not. Chambers herself testified that she and Boyfriend became engaged in 2012 and remained so, but at the time of the 2015 hearing had not yet set a wedding date. Chambers admitted to having a sexual relationship with Boyfriend and frequently traveling with him. She also acknowledged that she and Boyfriend attended church and other ...


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