Increase in Income Ends Maintenance but Strict Compliance With Statute Required

Recent Case from the Missouri Court of Appeals

Wife appeals the modification court's judgment granting, in part, Husband’s motion to modify his maintenance obligation.

The purpose of maintenance is to meet the reasonable expenses of a dependent spouse during dependency. Modification to an order for maintenance is necessary only upon a substantial and continuing change of circumstances, which was “unknown and unforeseeable” that make the order unreasonable. This statutory standard for modification is designed to be 'strict' so as to discourage and prevent recurrent and insubstantial motions for modification.

In this case, the modification court did not err in terminating Ulrich's maintenance obligation, in that twelve years post-dissolution, Wife can now satisfy her monthly reasonable needs without contribution from Husband. Furthermore, Wife’s increase in income was not "foreseeable" at the time the dissolution judgment was entered. Further, the trial court did not err in awarding Husband $7,000 in attorney's fees. Husband successfully litigated the merits of his motion to modify, and the modification court found Wife’s conduct during the course of litigation to be more egregious.

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District - ED105096