One of the most powerful tools available to parties in a spousal maintenance case is called a Karon Waiver. This tool is named after the Minnesota case of Karon v Karon, 435 N.W.2d 501 (Minn. 1989). A Karon Waiver limits the court’s ability to modify or establish maintenance in the future.
For example, parties may agree that one party will pay the other party spousal maintenance of $500 per month for five (5) years. If the parties include a Karon Waiver in their agreement, the court will have no jurisdiction to modify the $500 per month amount, and will have no jurisdiction to extend the length of spousal maintenance beyond the five (5) year period agreed to by the parties, no matter what. If a Karon Waiver is executed, the court will be completely unable to modify or establish maintenance no matter what happens in the future.
Because of the power of a Karon Waiver, it is important to use them wisely. Unfortunately, I frequently hear from people who are unhappy because they either agreed to a Karon Waiver they now wish they could undo or are unhappy because the Karon Waiver that they had agreed to was determined to be unenforceable because it was not properly drafted. In order to be enforceable, a Karon Waiver needs to comply with all of the following:
- The agreement must include a contractual waiver of the parties’ rights to modify maintenance;
- The agreement must expressly divest the court of jurisdiction over maintenance;
- The agreement must be incorporated into the final Judgement and Decree; and
- The court must make specific findings that the agreement:
- Is fair and equitable;
- Is supported by consideration; and
- That full disclosure of each parties’ financial circumstances has occurred.