Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

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Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby IrishGuy55555 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:45 am

Hi all. It's been a long time but I'm back looking for some expert advice.

Backstory: Ex moved out to live with another man 600 miles away in 2012. The man was previously her mother's boyfriend to live with my ex. I have full physical custody of S16. Spousal maintenance set in 2013 at $1,350 month (no end date) that is inclusive of child support so no checks coming my way except 1/3 medical. I make low $90k's; ex was set to start $35k job when she left but instead took $9k PT job. Documentation from court shows ex claimed $3k+ monthly living expenses to move out and support herself on her own in a bigger city to find better employment. This was used for agreement on spousal maintenance.

Fast forward to now. Ex lives with same man working same job but now FT for about $20k a year (still strategically below 1.5 minimum wage used for salary calculations). However I believe the man she lives with pays almost all bills leaving ex with $36k that is almost all expendable income for her. Our divorce decree states we must do mediation before court on issues. I have documentation that I have asked her to discuss it with me and three times demanded mediation but ex has refused. My son has a high cost medical condition and I am also living in the same house to keep him in his school district (and for comfort for him). I live conservatively but I'm buried in debt and am at a breaking point for keeping current on bills (all of which are I believe are fair and reasonable).

A new law August 1 in Minnesota states:

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 518.552, is amended by adding a subdivision to read:
Subd. 6.
Cohabitation.
(a) Spousal maintenance may be modified pursuant to section 518A.39, subdivision 2, based on the cohabitation by the maintenance obligee with another adult following dissolution of the marriage. The modification may consist of a reduction, suspension, reservation, or termination of maintenance. In determining if maintenance should be modified due to cohabitation, the court shall consider:
(1) whether the obligee would marry the cohabitant but for the maintenance award;
(2) the economic benefit the obligee derives from the cohabitation;
(3) the length of the cohabitation and the likely future duration of the cohabitation; and
(4) the economic impact on the obligee if maintenance is modified and the cohabitation ends.
(b) The court must not modify a maintenance award based solely on cohabitation if a marriage between the obligee and the cohabitant would be prohibited under section 517.03, subdivision 1, clause (2) or (3). A modification under this subdivision must be precluded or limited to the extent the parties have entered into a private agreement under subdivision 5.
(c) A motion to modify a spousal maintenance award on the basis of cohabitation may not be brought within one year of the date of entry of the decree of dissolution or legal separation that orders spousal maintenance, unless the parties have agreed in writing that a motion may be brought or the court finds that failing to allow the motion to proceed would create an extreme hardship for one of the parties.

My concern is this: Ex demanded and then released three therapists for S16 that is still angry at ex for leaving with no forewarning. Alcohol was also an issue before and since she left. The last therapist was working well until ex came to town last year for < parenting time > and filed in court to release therapist. This occurred with no prior conversation with me or therapist. She bypassed all conditions from divorce decree to discuss the issue: First between us; then informally with judge (phone conference if necessary); then mediation. She even passed the filing deadline for us to respond but judge dismissed therapist with no input from the him and granted overnight visits to ex (which the therapist wasn't yet recommending). I felt pegged as the villain in court for wanting to continue therapy which was beneficial to S16. Since that time ex has still not done an overnight when visiting (I keep persuading her) but told me she wanted to get it on paper. I think I'm a good dad and S16 is doing very well but as you can see the judge does not seem very fond of me. I think she is a good judge but believes ex is victim in this.

So the question is: Do I proceed at this point and reopen spousal maintenance? Any recommendations on a motion and evidence to gather/subpoena is greatly appreciated. And any other thoughts / suggestions / questions are welcome. I already have what I believe is a good plan but more information is power.

Final note: Attorney is offering flat rate on this. The plus is I get a good price for the entire process and I don't have to worry about added costs if it goes to trial. The negative is if the motion for discovery is denied I end up spending more than I would have and go deeper in debt with a weakened position for revisiting spousal maintenance.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
IrishGuy55555
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby Outis » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:05 am

working same job but now FT for about $20k a year . . . However I believe the man she lives with pays almost all bills leaving ex with $36k

I can't get past the math.
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby IrishGuy55555 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:09 am

The $20k from working + $16k spousal maintenance. Sorry - that was confusing.
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby afc » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:11 am

Why was there no end date?
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby IrishGuy55555 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:24 am

17 year marriage. Ex also set herself up well at the end. Began drinking heavily near the end of the marriage. Convicted of assault against myself and two others while drinking (I believe around 2008). Got laid off and decided she'd earned a vacation so she lived off of unemployment for almost two years (more drinking). Finally took part time cleaning work and charged us into debt. When the dam was ready to burst she left me and S16 and moved in with someone else to pay the bills. Another assault charge followed. And by then she had years of very low income so she created the perfect storm for herself of needing ongoing assistance. And all of the excessive charging created a false "quality of life" she was entitled to. Plus my priority was getting custody of S16. Things were getting bad with her at the end and I worried less about money and more about what was best for him.

Put it this way: If it was reversed and I was in her shoes I would have been hung out to dry. She was the victim because she is female.
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby afc » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:29 am

Did you agree or was it ordered?
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby IrishGuy55555 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:32 am

It was agreed upon.
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby Outis » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:47 am

Is there language stating that it's permanent? Or is there just a lack of an end date? Is there language prohibiting future modification?
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby IrishGuy55555 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:04 pm

There is no language stating it's permanent. My attorney specifically had language added stating that it can be modified in the future. But there is no end date included (for example: Five years). So the only events that would automatically end spousal maintenance in Minnesota would be death or if she remarried. That is the impetus of the new cohabitation law. Couples are living together and not getting married only because it would end spousal maintenance for one of them.
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Re: Advice on Attempt to Revise Spousal Maintenance

Unread postby IrishGuy55555 » Sun Aug 07, 2016 1:25 pm

Hey, I stumped the band! :D

I thought that might happen. It's a new law in Minnesota so there's no real precedent.

I had a good plan during my divorce that worked well and got me full physical custody of S16. I think I have a good plan going forward with this as well. I'm really just looking for something fair, even though I know that's a lot to ask for with divorce.

I'll let everyone know how it turns out. What worked and what didn't in case it's helpful for anyone else moving forward.

Thanks again, guys!
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