District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Paige
Petersen No. 034903241
A. Kirkham, Attorney for Appellant
Suzanne Marelius, Attorney for Appellee.
Gregory K. Orme authored this Opinion, in which Judges
Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Kate A. Toomey concurred.
Appellant Janae A. Kirkham (Wife) again appeals the trial
court's findings and modification order as well as the
award of attorney fees to Appellee Jamie Widdison
(Husband). We largely affirm but remand for
recalculation of the attorney fee award.
Wife and Husband divorced in 2003. The divorce decree awarded
the parties joint legal and physical custody of their three
children. In 2011, Husband filed a petition to modify child
support, requesting that he be allowed to claim the tax
exemption for their youngest child (Child), that the health
insurance options for Child be reevaluated, and that
Wife's interference with his parent time be addressed.
The trial court granted Husband's petition (the 2012
Order), awarding him the tax exemption for Child for the tax
years 2009 through 2012, with the option to purchase
Wife's 2013 exemption; requiring the parties to disclose
all available health and dental benefits for Child; and
enforcing the parent-time and transportation provisions of
the divorce decree. Because Husband substantially prevailed
on all claims, the trial court awarded him attorney fees.
Wife appealed the 2012 Order. See Widdison v.
Widdison, 2014 UT App 233, 336 P.3d 1106. On appeal, we
concluded that the trial court's findings regarding the
tax consequences of Wife losing the 2009, 2010, and 2011 tax
exemptions, and Husband's removal of Child from his
health insurance, were insufficient. Id.
¶¶ 7, 10, 14-15. We also determined that
"Wife's continued opposition" to the
tax-exemption issue was not unreasonable, and we therefore
vacated the trial court's award of attorney fees to
Husband. Id. ¶¶ 19-20 (quotation
simplified). We remanded with instructions that the trial
court enter additional findings on these issues. Id.
On remand, the trial court determined that the tax-exemption
issue had been resolved prior to the trial scheduled on
remand. It also found that although Husband had removed Child
from his health insurance for one year, Wife owed Husband for
his costs of carrying health insurance for Child from 2009 to
2014. But it concluded that Husband could not recover these
costs because he had waited too long to demand payment. The
trial court also reinstated Husband's attorney fee award.
And it held Wife in contempt for failing to comply with the
2012 Order and directed her to pay the attorney fees Husband
incurred as a result of her contempt.
In response, Wife filed motions for a new trial and to amend
or alter judgment on various grounds, including that child
support should be retroactively increased, that the
court's finding of contempt was not factually supported,
and that she should have been awarded the value of the 2012
tax exemption. The trial court denied the motions. Wife
appeals the trial court's orders entered on remand.
AND STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Wife contends that the trial court erred in shifting the tax
exemptions for Child to Husband for the tax years 2009
through 2012. We review findings of fact for clear error, and
"a trial court's factual finding is deemed clearly
erroneous only if it is against the clear weight of the
evidence." Wilson Supply, Inc. v. Fradan Mfg.
Corp., 2002 UT 94, ¶ 12, 54 P.3d 1177 (quotation
simplified). Wife next contends that she should not have been
held in contempt for failing to comply with the trial
court's orders. "We review a trial court's
decision to hold a party in contempt and impose sanctions for
a clear abuse of discretion." Summer v. Summer,
2012 UT App 159, ¶ 8, 280 P.3d 451 (quotation
simplified). And finally, Wife contends that the trial court
erroneously awarded ...