SALT LAKE CITY — The state's high court has ruled that a woman who may have had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy while the pair was living in the same home was not cohabiting and, therefore, still entitled to alimony.
The ruling written by Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas Lee upheld a previous ruling by the Utah Court of Appeals in the case of Becky Sue Myers.
Myers divorced her husband of 18 years in 2006. After the couple divorced, Myers didn't have a permanent home and "bounced all over the place" until she began to stay at her parents' house in Provo, court documents state. There were six foster boys who slept in an upstairs bedroom of the home, including one with whom the woman allegedly had a relationship.
Myers denied ever having a sexual relationship with the boy, but her son and daughter testified about a relationship between their mother and the teenager and said the teen called the woman his girlfriend, the pair "flirted with each other all the time" and were "always together."
In early 2008, 4th District Judge Samuel McVey determined that Myers was cohabiting with the teen and ordered that alimony payments be stopped. The judge said the accusation of a sexual relationship, combined with the fact that the pair was sharing a residence, was cohabitation, which terminated the woman's right to alimony payments.
The Utah Court of Appeals reversed the decision stating that such a scenario “bore little resemblance to a marriage.” Myers' husband, Tracy, then appealed to the Utah Supreme Court, which ruled late Thursday that cohabitation, under Utah statute, was more than a sexual relationship in the same home, that it was something "akin" to marriage.
"Ms. Myers’s relationship with (the boy) fell well short of that mark," Lee wrote. "The two may have had a sexual relationship and they may have slept in the same house for a time. But their relationship lacked any other marker of marriage-like cohabitation."
"This relationship did not rise to the level of marriage-like cohabitation, and Mr. Myers’s alimony duty was accordingly not affected by it," Lee wrote.
Tracy Myers' obligation to pay the $1,200 a month in alimony remains unchanged, Lee stated.