Divorce can be the most difficult time for the parties. During a marriage, most couples pool their resources to achieve their goals, pay off debts, and help support their children. After the divorce, the parties will each have to figure out how to do these things without the benefit of the income of the other spouse. Especially where one party has given up a career or made career related sacrifices to support the career of the other, one party may be economically disadvantaged. That spouse may then ask the court to end an order for spousal maintenance at the final hearing to help him or her keep a similar standard of living and in some cases pursue a new career or education path. In the future, either parent could pursue a modification of the spousal maintenance order if there is a change in circumstances, such as remarriage or a new job. That said, this will not be the case if the parties execute a Karon waiver.
A Karon waiver divests the court of jurisdiction to modify a spousal maintenance award in the future. This is true even if the parties can prove a change of circumstances that would typically result in an award of a spousal maintenance modification. If a proper Karon waiver has been executed, the court may not modify a previous spousal maintenance award unless the parties agree to the modification.
There are four requirements for an enforceable and proper Karon waiver. First, the parties must contractually waive their right to modify maintenance. This means that the parties have to agree, in writing, that the divorce agreement entered with the decree will not be modifiable under any circumstances. Second, the agreement must be specific in its intent to divest the court of its ability to modify the support order in the future. Third, the Karon waiver must be entered together with the divorce settlement agreement and the final decree. Even if the waiver is included in other divorce documents, the waiver will not be enforceable if not included with the decree. Finally, pursuant to Minnesota statute 518.522, the court must make an independent determination that the waiver is fair, equitable, and supported by adequate consideration. The court must also determine that both parties have made a full and total disclosure of their assets. If the waiver is missing any of these elements, then the court can modify the spousal maintenance award.
If you have questions about spousal maintenance and divorce, let us answer them. Call us today at 651-371-9117 for a consultation. We can talk with you about your divorce and how we can help you achieve your goals.