Even though agreement says maintenance not modifiable, motion remanded for additional cohabitation findings – published opinion from Ky Court of Appeals

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Lockhart v. Lockhart

The parties entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement in which Former Husband agreed to pay maintenance to Former Wife for a period of years or until Former Wife remarried. Additionally, the Agreement precluded the modification of maintenance. Former Husband filed a motion to terminate his maintenance obligation due to a decrease of his income. In a second motion, Former Husband argued the Agreement should be set aside based on Former Wife’s cohabitation with her boyfriend.

The Trial Court denied Former Husband’s motions, reasoning that the Agreement expressly provided that maintenance was not subject to modification and that, under the terms of the Agreement, cohabitation was not grounds for termination of maintenance.

The Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred in finding that Former Wife’s cohabitation was not grounds to terminate maintenance under the terms of the Agreement, even though the Agreement expressly precluded modification for subsequent unconscionability. Additionally, the Court noted that in Combs v. Combs, 787 S.W.2d 260 (Ky. 1990), the Supreme Court of Kentucky held that, although KRS 403.250(2) provides for the termination of maintenance only upon the remarriage of the receiving party, the receiving spouse’s cohabitation can render continued maintenance unconscionable if it constitutes a new financial resource. The Court of Appeals remanded the case for additional findings of fact surrounding Former Wife’s cohabitation.   

Digested by: Emily T. Cecconi