Zavala v Zavala

Father appealed the modification of the parties’ child custody order. The panel, with one judge concurring on result, affirmed. The majority first held that when modification of stipulated decree is sought, the standard for determining whether a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred is relaxed as it is the first opportunity for a court to make findings and enter an order. Here, the majority held father invited any error in the change of circumstances issue by alleging mother’s moves were a substantial change and the district court relied on those facts to find a substantial change in circumstances. The majority held district courts area allowed to consider fats that occurred before the modification petition in modification proceedings as the relevant statutes do not bar consideration and indeed invite such consideration. The panel held that child’s relocation some 43 miles from father, his need to use child care services instead of providing care himself, his cutting off telephonic communication between mother and child during visitation and his acknowledgement that he was hungover during at least one visit were sufficient to support the modification from one week with each parent to nine days per two weeks with mother during the school year. The majority held father failed to preserve his argument about factors to be considered in the district court’s analysis as he only made a blanket objection which is insufficient under Utah case law and in any event the district court entered written factual findings which were sufficient. The panel held that there was no abuse of discretion in rejecting father’s expert’s recommendations as the expert failed to allow mother the same access to information as father and failed to consider father’s use of alcohol. Faintly, the majority held that father failed to challenge the district court’s rationale for ordering him to pay for a court appointed expert and thus waived review.

In the Interests of K.C. (D.C. v State)

D.C. appealed the termination of his parental rights. The panel affirmed holding termination is in K.C.’s best interests as D.C. is in prison and will be for life and K.C.’s grandparents want to adopt him.

State v Goff

Goff appealed her sentence. The panel affirmed holding the district court considered Goff’s mitigation evidence and permissibly ruled that Goff’s failure to seek treatment for her children after they ingested methadone required prison time instead of probation.

West Valley City v Kent

City appealed the district court’s denial of its motion in limine to allow a transcript of the victim’s preliminary hearing testimony into evidence. The panela reversed and remanded. It held the district court erred in finding dissimilar motives to cross examine between the hearing and a trial as the Utah Supreme Court held otherwise in 1981 and the district court further erred in considering later recantations in its analysis as the sole focus is on the opportunity to challenge credibility through cross examination which occurred here. The case was remanded for a new analysis of the motion.