Adamson v. AdamsonAnnotate this Case
Carol Lynn Adamson,
Petitioner and Appellee,
Ted Jay Adamson,
Respondent and Appellant.
(Not For Official Publication)
Case No. 990931-CA
F I L E D
April 12, 2001 2001 UT App 124 -----
Second District, Farmington Department
The Honorable Jon M. Memmott
Alan R. Stewart, Murray, for Appellant
George K. Fadel, Bountiful,
Before Judges Greenwood,
Jackson, and Davis.
Appellant Ted Adamson (Husband)
appeals the trial court's summary judgment denying his petition to modify
the property distribution contained in the decree of divorce. We reverse
the summary judgment and remand for further proceedings on Husband's petition.
"Summary judgment is appropriate
only if there has been a showing 'that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as
a matter of law.'" J.R. Simplot Co. v. Sales King Int'l., 2000 UT
92,¶13, 17 P.3d 1100 (quoting Utah R. Civ. P. 56(c)).
Notwithstanding the various
and sometimes convoluted issues presented in a protracted fashion to the
trial court, the parties agreed during oral argument that the sole issue
on appeal is whether the property distribution in the decree of divorce
is res judicata, thereby entitling Carol Adamson (Wife) to judgment as
a matter of law.
In divorce proceedings, "[t]he court has continuing jurisdiction to make subsequent changes or new orders for the custody of the children and their support, maintenance, health, and dental care, and for distribution of the property and obligations for debts as is reasonable and necessary." Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-5(3) (Supp. 2000) (emphasis added). However, "[t]he principles of res judicata apply fully in the context of divorce proceedings." Krambule v. Krambule, 1999 UT App 357,¶13, 994 P.2d 210, cert. denied 4 P.3d 1289 (Utah 2000). Consequently, "'a party seeking modification of a divorce decree must demonstrate that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the entry of the decree, and not contemplated in the decree itself.' 'In the absence of such a showing, the decree shall not be modified . . . .'" Id. (citations omitted).
In the present case, it is undisputed that Wife was awarded an interest in Husband's retirement funds as part of the divorce decree; Husband was paralyzed in a work accident; Husband is no longer able to work as a plumber; and, Husband is currently entitled to retirement/disability payments from his pension plans. It is also undisputed that, when the divorce decree was entered, the parties did not contemplate that Husband would become disabled and entitled to early payments from his pension plans. Therefore, the undisputed facts demonstrated "'that a substantial change in circumstances ha[d] occurred since the entry of the decree, and not contemplated in the decree itself.'" Id. (citation omitted). Thus, Wife was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Husband's petition to modify the decree of divorce was not barred by the doctrine of res judicata, and the trial court had jurisdiction to modify the decree under section 30-3-5.
Accordingly, we reverse the
trial court's grant of summary judgment and remand for further proceedings
on Husband's petition to modify the decree of divorce.
James Z. Davis, Judge
Pamela T. Greenwood,
Norman H. Jackson,
Associate Presiding Judge