When going through a divorce, Minnesota allows for spousal maintenance (or alimony) based on statutory qualifications. Once an award for spousal maintenance is established it can be later modified if either party brings a motion for modification to the court because of changed circumstances.These changed circumstances include job status, income, retirement, or other criteria directly related to income and spousal maintenance. However, a properly executed Karon waiver eliminates this right of the court to modify or address spousal support under any circumstances. The Karon waiver divests the court of any future jurisdiction to modify spousal maintenance for any reason, unless both parties agree to modify.
Four Requirements for a Karon Waiver
In order for a Karon waiver to be valid, it must meet four very specific requirements. First, there must be a contractual waiver of the parties’ rights to modify maintenance. That means that, at the time of signing the final decree, both parties agree to the specifications of the spousal maintenance as described in the divorce agreement and will not, under any circumstances, modify that agreement.
Second, the stipulation must expressively divest the district court of jurisdiction over maintenance. This means that the parties agree to remove the rights of the courts to make any decisions relating to spousal support. This is likely one of the most important stipulations because without it, the courts would be able to make decisions on your behalf and without your consent.
Third, this stipulation must be entered into the final judgment decree of divorce. Otherwise, the court may not have a record of this stipulation and would therefore not need to abide by it. Even if the stipulation is included in all other documentation, ultimately the records that must be adhered to by the courts are the final judgment and decree. Therefore, all stipulations relating to the terms of the divorce and related support issues must be included in the final judgment decree.
Lastly, in accordance with M.S. 518.552, subd 5, the court, and only the court must find, independently, that the stipulation is fair and equitable, is supported by consideration described in the findings, and that full disclosure of each party’s financial circumstances has occurred. This final stipulation helps ensure that neither party be unfairly punished through spousal support.
If It Is Not Properly Executed
If the Karon waiver is missing any of the requirements, the spousal maintenance agreement can be challenged and changed by the court. A perfect example of this issue occurred in Hietpas v. Reed, 2014 WL 6863173, (Minn. App. 2014). In this example, the parties agreed to the termination of spousal support five years from the date of activation. However, as the termination date neared, the ex-wife challenged the validity of the Karon waiver in hopes to extend spousal support past the originally agree-upon five years. The district court ruled in her favor because the Karon waiver did not expressly remove all jurisdictions of the district court and did not include a specific finding that the arrangement was fair and equitable.
These kinds of situations happen, but are certainly preventable with the help of experienced attorneys who zealously represent your best interests.
Let the experienced Divorce and Family Law attorneys at Lake Harriet Law Office assist you with your divorce. We are highly-experienced, well-versed and ready to represent you in your case. Call us today at 612.750.4843 to schedule a consultation.