Some Basics on Property Rights and Marriage in Utah

Below are some basic laws regarding the property rights of married individuals:

  • A wife can enter into contracts with the same consequences as though she weren’t married. Yes, this is actually a statute in the Utah Code.  It is a change from the common law which prohibited married women from entering into contracts.  All such property rights were effected through their husbands.  We’ve come a long way…
  • Husbands and wives can transfer property to each other.  This also comes from common law where title to property of the marital unit was held in the husband’s name.  He could not convey property to his wife.
  • A wife has a right to wages for her labor and to recover for injuries to her caused by others.  Again this comes from common law when the husband had a right to recover on behalf of his wife.
  • Neither spouse is responsible for the other’s separate debts.  This includes separate debts incurred during marriage except for specifics applicable in divorce actions and defined by statute like family expenses and expenses related to taking care of children.
  • A husband cannot be held liable for his wife’s civil injuries (e.g., car accidents, assaults, etc.).
  • Husbands and wives can serve as each other’s attorneys in fact and can revoke such power once given.  An attorney in fact means that the person has power of attorney, which is set forth in a written instrument detailing the powers the attorney in fact has.
  • Husband and wife are both liable for all family expenses and costs for the education of the children and creditors can go after one or both to recover amounts owed.
  • Neither the husband nor the wife can remove or evict the other from the marital home.  Also, if a spouse abandons the family, the other spouse gets custody of the children unless a court says otherwise.
  • A spouse has an action for loss of consortium if their spouse is injured by the negligence or intentional act of another.  Loss of consortium is loss of love, companionship, sex, etc.

There are a lot of laws regarding marriage and divorce and it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced Utah divorce lawyer if you have additional questions.

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