Courts Bulletin: Modifiable maintenance granted at divorce is terminated when all of the reasons it was awarded have changed.
An action to terminate modifiable maintenance was granted. The case is fact-specific, but deserves reporting simply because of the dearth of appellate cases in which modifiable maintenance is terminated.
At the time of the parties’ divorce (dates not noted in opinion, but approximately 2003-2004), the Husband ran a business which earned him approximately $190,000 annually. The Wife had worked for the business, but that ended with their separation. Her stated needs at divorce were $2,490 per month. She intended to go to school full-time and become self-sufficient thereafter. She requested and obtained $2,000 per month in modifiable maintenance.
Fast forward to 2010 at which time the Wife had graduated from college and gotten a job with the IRS earning approximately $34,000 annually. She had also inherited a half-interest in a piece of real estate worth $63,000 and her residence was paid for and worth $200,000. The Husband filed a motion to terminate the maintenance. His request was granted, and this appeal followed.
Held: Affirmed. “In determining whether an increase in income renders the prior decree unreasonable, the court may consider a number of factors, including the purpose of the award of maintenance and the current financial needs of the receiving spouse.” Here the Wife’s increased income (from -0- to $3,000 per month), the attainment of her college degree, the acquisition of full-time employment and ownerships of substantial unencumbered assets all indicated her ability to support herself without the need for maintenance. These were reasons sufficient for the trial court to exercise the discretion to conclude the monthly maintenance was now unreasonable.
Source for Post: Missouri Bar Courts Bulletin October 2012