Rayborn v. Rayborn, 185 SW3d 641, (Ky., 2006)
The actual distribution of remaining marital property and
sale thereof did not result in the sort of substantial change in
circumstances that could render a maintenance obligation
nconscionable. Even if the initial divorce decree was done
incorrectly and without adequate findings, the remedy is
a direct appeal from the decree. These sorts of defects cannot
serve as a basis for a later action to modify the maintenance
In a 1991 divorce decree, the husband was ordered to pay permanent maintenance to his disabled wife. The wife received most of the personal marital property including a mobile home, and the husband was ordered to pay the marital debt except for the debt on the mobile home. The one half interest in a 44 acre farm where the mobile home was located, was not disposed of by the decree.
After the divorce the husband purchased the other half interest in the farm from a third party. In 2002 the farm was sold for $336,075. Since half the interest in the farm was part of the marital estate, the parties agreed to split the proceeds of sale with the wife's share consisting of $47,000. Thereafter, the husband moved to terminate his maintenance obligation.
The Supreme Court held that the actual distribution of the remaining marital property did not result in the sort of substantial change in circumstances that could render a maintenance obligation unconscionable.
In addition to its claim of changed circumstances, the trial court discussed the fact that the initial divorce decree was done incorrectly and, as a result, the maintenance obligation was unconscionable when it was created. The Supreme Court noted that, while the original decree did not include the requisite findings of fact and did not dispose of the entire marital estate, those failures do not provide adequate justification for the trial court to revisit the original maintenance order. Those sorts of defects are properly raised only in the context of a direct appeal of the decree; they cannot serve as a basis for a later action to modify the maintenance obligation.