Utah Law Developments

Publication year2020
Utah Law Developments
Vol. 33 No. 2 Pg. 43
Utah Bar Journal
April, 2020

March, 2020

Appellate Highlights

By Rodney R. Parker, Dani Cepernich, Robert Cummings, Nathanael Mitchell, Adam Pace, and Andrew Roth

Editor’s Note: The following appellate cases of interest were recently decided by the Utah Supreme Court, Utah Court of Appeals, and United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The following summaries have been prepared by the authoring attorneys listed above, who are solely responsible for their content.


Castro v. Lemus, 2019 UT 71 (Dec. 19, 2019) Hinkle v. Jacobsen, 2019 UT 72 (Dec. 19, 2019) Olguin v. Anderton, 2019 UT 73 (Dec. 19, 2019) Mackley v. Openshaw, 2019 UT 74 (Dec. 19, 2019)

Under Utah’s Uniform Parentage Act (“UUPA”), Utah Code Ann. § 78B-15-204(1)(a), a man is presumed to be the father of any child born during the course of his marriage to the child’s mother. A series of companion cases recently issued by the Utah Supreme Court – Castro v. Lemus, Hinkle v. Jacobsen, Olguin v. Anderton, and Mackley v. Openshaw – dealt with the standing of an alleged father to challenge this presumption and establish his own paternity.

Castro, the lead opinion, reviewed the dismissal of an alleged father’s challenge to the presumed paternity of a child conceived during a period of separation between the child’s mother and the presumed father. Under R.P. v. K.S.W., 2014 UT App 38, 320 P.3d 1084, such a challenge could only be raised by the presumed father or the child’s mother. The Castro court unanimously overruled R.P., holding instead that the UUPA unambiguously grants standing to an alleged father to establish his own paternity, even where the child at issue has a presumed father.

Noting constitutional challenges raised in each of the companion cases, the Castro court observed that any contrary interpretation “raises questions as to the UUPA’s constitutionality.” Thus, even if the UUPA were ambiguous as to the standing of an alleged father, the canon of constitutional avoidance would demand the same result.

Timothy v. Pia Anderson Dorius Reynard Moss 2019 UT 69 (Dec. 16, 2019)

The supreme court “granted certiorari in this case to address whether a law firm that deposited funds from a client into its trust account is a ‘transferee’ under the” Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. The court of appeals had answered the question in the negative. The supreme court, however, did not reach the issue because while the appeal was pending, the petitioners allowed the judgment from the trial court to expire. Upon expiration of the judgment, the plaintiffs no longer had a right to payment under the judgment, thereby depriving them of status as a creditor, which is required for a UFTA claim. Because the judgment expired prior to the court of appeals issuing its opinion, the supreme court vacated the court of appeals’ decision as well.



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