Gray v. Gray

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Gray v. Gray, Case No. 20010360-CA, Filed 9/20/01 IN THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS


Cheryl L. Gray,
Petitioner and Appellant,


Edward L. Gray,
Respondent and Appellee.

(Not For Official Publication)

Case No. 20010360-CA

September 20, 2001 2001 UT App 274 -----

Second District, Farmington Department
The Honorable Rodney S. Page

Cheryl L. Gray, Livonia, Michigan, Appellant Pro Se
Matthew F. McNulty and Brian K. Lofgren, Salt Lake City, for Appellee


Before Judges Jackson, Bench, and Thorne.


Appellant Cheryl L. Gray appeals the dismissal of a divorce proceeding. This case is before the court on a sua sponte motion for summary affirmance.

The district court concluded that the Final Judgment of Divorce entered by the Superior Court of Guam was entitled to full faith and credit under Article 4, Section 1, of the United States Constitution. The court further concluded that appellant could not maintain a divorce action in Utah when there was a final judgment of divorce entered by a court of competent jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court granted summary judgment and dismissed the Utah action.

It is undisputed that these parties were the same parties involved in the Guam divorce action, that appellant filed an answer and counterclaim in that action and submitted to the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of Guam, and that the Guam action resulted in a final divorce decree that either resolved or could have resolved the claims raised in the Utah case. See Krambule v. Krambule, 1999 UT App 357,¶12, 994 P.2d 210 (stating claim preclusion prevents relitigation of claims that were fully litigated and claims that could have been litigated, but were not raised). There is also no genuine dispute that the parties satisfied the jurisdictional prerequisites under 19 Guam Code Ann. § 8318 or that the Superior Court of Guam fully and fairly litigated the jurisdictional question. See Paffel v. Paffel, 732 P.2d 96, 99 (Utah 1986) (stating that where the issue of jurisdiction of foreign court was raised and adjudicated in that court, the determination becomes res judicata and is entitled to full faith and credit).

The district court correctly distinguished this case from one in which a party seeks to domesticate and enforce a foreign decree. The present action was initiated by appellant, who sought to challenge the actions of the Guam courts by filing a separate action in Utah. The Utah district court is not the appropriate forum in which to challenge the constitutionality of the Guam statute.

We affirm the district court's dismissal of the divorce proceedings. Appellee requests his costs and attorney fees incurred on appeal. Because the district court awarded appellee attorney fees below, we award them on appeal and remand the case for determination of costs and reasonable fees. See Smith v. Smith, 1999 UT App 370,¶18, 995 P.2d 14 ("In domestic cases, when a party has prevailed below and the trial court has awarded attorney fees, we will generally award the same party attorney fees when he or she prevails on appeal.").

Norman H. Jackson,
Associate Presiding Judge

Russell W. Bench, Judge

William A. Thorne, Jr., Judge