Alimony, audits and adoption: family issues heard during Utah interim meetings

During last week’s interim day meetings, the legislature heard three family issues.

The Judiciary Interim Committee listened to testimony about reforming alimony (brought to the Committee by Representative Fred Cox, R-West Valley City) which has been a Sutherland Institute priority. The proposal would allow courts to consider whether one spouse broke up a marriage in determining an award of support from one spouse to the other. This is a matter of basic justice: a person who did nothing to break up a marriage should not have to pay the spouse who did; a spouse should also not be put into a bad financial position by a spouse who destroys a marriage. The committee seemed open to the commonsense principle the reform would advance. Sutherland will continue working on this issue.

The same committee also heard testimony about an audit of the State’s Department of Child and Family Services. Representative LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, brought this matter to the committee’s attention. All of the legislators who spoke and the state agencies expressed a desire to ensure the best interests of children are met in the work of state agencies by protecting the fundamental constitutional right of fit parents to raise their children without unnecessary interference. The committee appointed a working group to formulate questions that will ensure the direction of child welfare work in the state is consistent with children’s interests and constitutional principles.

The Health and Human Services Interim Committee dealt with an effort to change Utah’s adoption-friendly public policy. The State has had a longstanding policy that when a man impregnates a woman without first marrying her he must act decisively and quickly to show real commitment to take responsibility for the child or he cannot prevent the mother from allowing adoption of the child. The law specifically notes that a man who has a sexual relationship is aware that a child may result. In the last legislative session, the House Health and Human Services Committee rejected attempts to create additional hurdles for an unwed mother who wants to allow her child to be adopted because she is not in a position to raise the child at that time. The issue, unfortunately, reemerged yesterday. Even more unfortunate is that yesterday’s hearing only included highly-colored testimony on one side of the issue, despite a number of members of public at the hearing who had experience that would have helped the committee see the other side of the question, including adoptive parents, birth mothers, attorneys who work on adoptions and employees of adoption agencies.

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3 Responses to Alimony, audits and adoption: family issues heard during Utah interim meetings

  1. Pingback: Alimony, audits and adoption: family issues heard during Utah … | Child Adoption Process

  2. Garry says:

    Totally agree that the spouse who bails on their marriage should not be entitled to alimony. Same thing should apply if they both agree to bail. Would most certainly move divorce proceedings along thus reducing court time and costs.

  3. William Heino Sr. says:

    State court violation Separation of Powers DISABLED VETERANS

    To the disabled veteran, in arguing both sides of the DIVORCE,.. good faith and fair dealing;… violation of 38 USC 5301; …. permitted by Federal law to obtain VA disability payments; … the parties entered into the separation agreement; … disagreement centers on whether defendant breached the agreement; impermissibly modified the agreement; … entitlement to alimony; …. support or maintenance; the judgment merely enforced contractual obligation; … satisfy from any of his resources; Mansell v. Mansell; the judge denied the motion, …etc. Does all this really matter? Consider the following.

    The issue is VA medical disability compensation, the property rights of the disabled veteran, in what VA medical doctors, medical professionals have determined a disabled veterans injuries should be compensated for. If, and when the question is a disabled veteran’s VA disability compensation as alimony/support, now that alimony reform has surfaced in many state legislatures, it’s time that disabled veterans voices be heard in a matter that has long concerned them. State court judges continue to ignore the disabled veteran, and the law, 38 USC 5301, 10 USC 1408. “Separation of powers” doctrine is mandated to end this attempt by the state court to manipulate, overlook, and circumvent the law and their disregard of disabled veterans.

    Disabled veteran’s, and the “separation of powers” doctrine, both overlooked, ignored, for years, by Utah and most state court judges, acting like doctors, holding themselves as qualified, as a provider of health care, policy making outside their jurisdiction. Substituting their judgment for the judgment of VA doctors and medical professionals, awarding as alimony, a disabled veteran’s earned VA disability compensation. Acting outside of constitutional boundaries of long held established VA medical protocols, in considering and re-evaluating a disabled veteran’s disability compensation in order to further degrade property rights of the disabled veteran, runs afoul of the “separation of powers” doctrine. To allow what is happening, was this the intent of Congress?

    Realizing laws protecting VA disability compensation as exempt, the courts, therefore are unable, in any legal standing, to secure garnishment of veteran’s disability compensation. The court not satisfied, in a final move, will now consider, from any source, an equitable calculation of veteran’s resources, to include…. the very same disability compensation the court has acknowledged as exempt in determining alimony/support. Suggesting the use of a veteran’s disability compensation as alimony, or go to jail! As has happened. The mere mention, innuendo, or thought of VA disability compensation to satisfy indemnity obligations as a equitable consideration in any form, thought or calculation of VA disability compensation, suggests interference in matters, identified as exempt, are beyond the courts jurisdiction, under “separation of powers” doctrine. The court has the responsibility and the obligation to uphold the State Constitution’s “separation of powers” doctrine.

    The United States Supreme Court has stated that a state divorce judgment, “Like other law governing the economic aspects of domestic relations, must give way to clearly conflicting federal enactments.” Ridgway v. Ridgway, 454 U.S. 46, 55 (1981).

    Utah Constitution
    Article V, Section 1. [Three departments of government.]
    “The powers of the government of the State of Utah shall be divided into three distinct departments, the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial; and no person charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any functions appertaining to either of the others, except in the cases herein expressly directed or permitted.”

    Forgotten are the rights of the disabled veterans. It is clear the court’s have no legal right to, exercise, determine, consider in any equitable calculation thereof, or divide federal VA disability benefits, in order to further enhance martial property. The improper, intrusive practice by state court judges in administration and governing over VA medical rehabilitative disability compensation. The separation of powers doctrine imposes the assumption that the state court, in attacking the disabled veterans legal right to claim as exempt, his or her VA disability compensation, requires subject matter jurisdiction. The court has the sworn duty and responsibility to enforce federal law. The court’s continued attempt to override VA administered rehabilitative services, of disability compensation is not within the courts purview, legal right or jurisdiction to invade.

    The United State court of appeals, in VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE, VETERANS UNITED FOR TRUTH, INC., v. ERIC K. SHINSEKI, December 13, 2011, ruled, “As much as we may wish for expeditious improvement in the way the VA handles mental health care and service-related disability compensation, we cannot exceed our jurisdiction to accomplish it,..” As well, Utah is not in any legal position to do so. Bush v. Schiavo, 885 So. 2d 321, (Fla. 2004). Despite the law, it continues.

    “It is well established that disability benefits are a protected property interest and may not be discontinued without due process of law.” See Atkins v. Parker, 472 U.S. 115, 128 (1985); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 332 (1976)”

    14th Amendment. “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, with due process of law, ..”

    Which leaves the question, ANY alimony reform for disabled veterans when is that going to happen? Support for disabled veterans is all that is needed.

    William Heino Sr.

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