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Court properly declined to modify spousal maintenance agreement

November 26, 2013

An ex-wife must pay her husband $4,000 a month in spousal maintenance under an agreement she signed, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday, affirming a trial court’s decision to deny the woman’s request to modify the maintenance.

Barbara and Michael Pohl divorced in March 2009; two months later, Barbara Pohl signed an addendum to their custody, support and property settlement agreement agreeing to pay spousal support to Michael Pohl. Her ex-husband injured his back and received Social Security income payments for his disability. Michael Pohl would receive $4,000 a month from his ex-wife beginning in June 2013.

In October 2012, Barbara Pohl asked the trial court to modify her spousal maintenance obligation to $1,000 a month, pointing to her ex-husband’s increased SSI and that his fiancée pays the couple’s rent. Since signing the agreement, Barbara Pohl’s salary has increased nearly $60,000.

Those payments were stayed pending the outcome of this appeal, Barbara J. Pohl v. Michael G. Pohl, 32A04-1304-DR-163.

“Here, spousal maintenance was agreed to by the parties in an addendum, and, because the trial court found that Michael’s disability ‘materially affected’ his ability to support himself, a trial court would also have had the authority to award Michael spousal incapacity maintenance under Indiana Code section 31-15-7-2(1). Therefore, the trial court had the authority to modify the agreement under a standard that required her to show fraud, duress, or mistake or a substantial and continuing change in circumstances,” Judge John Baker wrote.

But she failed to show the agreement should have been modified under either option. The trial court’s determination that there was a “basis in evidence to support the maintenance” is supported by the evidence, the judges held.
 

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